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A jungle portrait Frontispiece 



More jungle callers. The Sultan, heading an imposing pro- 
cession across the palaver ground, makes his official visit 
to the new guests of the resthouse 4 

A woman of the Walese tribe with lip plugs, tattooing and 
jewelry. Mangbetu babies, whose heads have been 
bound since birth "... 8 

The village "modiste" painting a design on her client's body. 

Hairdressing at the market place 12 

The colobus monkey at the Meru sawmill 20 

The young pet baboon at San Kuri. The "thumbless" colobus 
monkey at the Meru sawmill playing possum to coax the 
dogs to come and play 32 

Canoes on the Tana River 40 

A Wafocomo woman, lower Tana River, Kenya Colony . . 30 

Unloading boats at a camping place, Tana River. Preparing 

luncheon in Mrs. Akeley 's jungle kitchen .... 58 

Waboni woman bush mother and child, Tana River, Kenya 

Colony 64 

The dense primeval forest on Mt. Kenya, where hunting ele- 
phants calls for all the courage one has. Elephants rest- 
ing at midday 72 

An old elephant trail. Preparing the hide of an elephant for 

transportation back to America 80 

Carl Akeley and the first elephant he shot after settling the 

question of his morale. Mr. Akeley and J. T. Jr. . . 90 

An avenue of palms leading up to a picturesque resthouse. A 

welcome sight at the end of a long, hard march ... 98 

The Sultan arrives for an afternoon call on Mrs. Akeley, bring- 
ing three of his three hundred wives 104 



The servants' quarters behind the resthouse. Mogornbo on 
the right, Simuoni the cook in the center, and his helper 

on the left 108 

A well-worn game trail leading down to the crocodile-infested 

Tana River. A Tana crocodile asleep on a sandbar . . 114 
Hippos infest the Tana River and share the same sandbars 

with man-eating crocodiles 118 

A Congo ferry. Mrs. Akeley's porters crossing a river in 

dugout canoes 126 

Flamingos of Lake Hannington . . . . ..j t .. ,. t , , 144 

Loading the dugouts for a river journey . . . . . . 156 

Traveling with camels across the arid desert country which lies 

between the Tana River and Abyssinia 162 

Mrs. Akeley 's caravan leaving the Government Station , . 168 

Native-built roads 172 

Mrs. Akeley and some of her pygmy friends. Tepoi and 

carriers 180 

The pygmies* Sultan, on the right, poses with his people for 

Mrs. Akeley's camera. A promise of refreshment brought 

these pygmies with their drums into a clearing to dance . 190 
Kisenyi, Belgian Congo. A Walese village in a clearing in 

the Ituri Forest 196 

A well-proportioned pygmy 204 

Pygmies in a Walese village in the Dark Forest, where the 

little people are safe from the prying eyes of white men 210 
Two young Okapi. These animals were brought out of the 

forest by the pygmies and survived for several months at 

the mission at Buta (Basuele), Belgian Congo ... 220 
One of the Kikuyu huts in which Mrs. Akeley searched for 

the runaway guides. Ringuru 236 

Bringing Mr. Akeley out of the forest on a stretcher- A 

hospital camp on the edge of the Kenya Forest . . . 244 




IF civilization is indeed a "disease," as has often been 
claimed, then a craving for the barbaric must be its most 
acute fever symptom. 

That is one of the first things to strike a returned trav- 
eler from Africa. What a wave of interest there is in the 
primitive! Our night clubs resound with so-called jungle 
rhythms; our jazz symphonies carry the shock of savage emo- 
tions. The bound heads of tortured Mangbetu babies are 
represented in our style of hats. The metal neck rings 
and massed wire bracelets of Congo belles appear on the 
streets. Paints and pigments of vivid hues decorate the 
cheeks and lips of women. We crowd into suffocatingly 
hot concert halls to hear the fashionable and "plaintive" 
negro spirituals. Yet it is doubtful whether all our imi- 
tation carries real relief to us. We try too hard. 

In these days of high speed, skyscrapers, subways, and 
sublimations, we have lost the art of seeing simply. We 
look at men and women as individuals, as romances, or 
sociological cases. We no longer look at them as mani- 
festations of Nature, like trees twisted by the wind, or leop- 


arids with hides mottled in conformity with jungle shade. 
We cannot accept the primitive without adding to it over- 
tones from our own desires. 

On the soil of Africa itself, one sees a great deal of an- 
other civilized attitude. There are those who wish to "im- 
prove" rather than imitate the natives. They honestly 
pity the "poor savage creatures" who live free, unrestricted 
lives out in the forests and on the sun-kissed plains, as neigh- 
bors to the birds and wild animals. They wish to "raise 
their status" by education, hygiene, and cotton suits, and 
by training them to be subservient to the white man's wishes 
and desires. Shocked by the sight of their nudity, the 
earnest "improver" urges them to cover their beautiful 
brown bodies with ugly civilized garments, which obviously 
instill in their primitive minds a false modesty that does 
more harm than good. It makes them self-conscious and 
creates a desire for unobtainable things, which can only 
result in making them dishonest or undesirable citizens. 
In this connection I vividly remember a young native girl, 
whom I once saw from the deck of a cotton barge 
when I was traveling down the Ruby River in the Belgian 

She was parading to and fro, under the blistering tropical 
sun, the wares of the leading white trader as a lure to entice 
her bark-cloth clad sisters into his shop. Perspiration 
oozed from her forehead and streaked the white powder 
which coated her comely black face. A beflowered "store*' 
hat of ancient design crowned her oiled and glistening frizz 
of hair. She wore a flimsy, beruffled pink frock so tight 
that her tortured flesh strained at the buttons and protruded 



in little brown lumps where they gave way, and stiffly car- 
ried in one white-gloved hand a child's pink parasol. Her 
feet, obviously designed for jungle paths, were cramped 
into high-heeled yellow shoes, in which she hobbled and 
teetered her painful way. Roused from their boredom by 
the appearance of this caricature, the white men on the 
boat rushed to the rail and whistled, coughed, and laughed; 
some of them even made vulgar remarks at the poor thing 
in her own language. 

To me, the dark lady of the river bank was a symbol. 
She was the living representation of what happens when 
we try to improve savage life. A rouged American flapper 
dancing the Charleston is another symbol; she is the result 
of imitating that life. Either effort is unnatural, pathetic, 
and impossible for civilized man. 

Both these attitudes toward the "natives" I tried to clear 
from my mind when I made my journey of a year through 
the heart of equatorial Africa, alone with a small "safari" 
of negro porters. I honestly tried to view the natives with 
whom I came in contact as naturally as I viewed the speci- 
mens I was collecting for the Brooklyn Institute of Arts 
and Sciences. This, I feel, is the only way to understand 
them. Yet the harder I tried the more appalled I was at 
the difficulty of such a task. For all of us who belong 
to civilized worlds, the very simplicity of savage life must 
always remain its greatest mystery. 

The wistful and plaintive note that appeals to us so much 
in the "spiritual" is lacking in Africa. These people of the 
desert and jungle are not longing for any sweet chariot to 
swing low. Neither are they indulging in jazz or the 



blues. They are filled with a simple, free joy that is the 
hardest emotion for us to understand or feel. 

All along the, trail, as my boys and I made our ten or 
fifteen long miles a day, we were met on the outskirts of 
villages by welcoming committees, headed by the Sultan. 
In regalia of palm oil and colored pigments, discarded 
European clothing, or their own becoming native bark 
cloth, they would greet me with whoops and handclasps, 
and run with my tepoi into the village. My boys would 
respond by dancing under their loads and yelling with 
such ear-splitting effect, one would fancy they had blown 
off the tops of their powerful lungs. All I could wish for, 
in those too frequent hours, was one touch of the merely 

These ceremonies concluded, if the rising temperature 
warned us that midday was approaching and with it time 
to make camp, I was escorted to the leaf-thatched rest- 
house where I was to spend the night. Here, above the 
din made by the excited populace and the boys who were 
putting my house in order, the megaphone voice of my cook 
could be heard imploring the Sultan to send wood and water 
quickly, that he might prepare food for his fatigued and 
famished "Madamo." 

In less time than it takes to do the daily marketing at 
home, I would be comfortably installed in my jungle home. 
My hot bath would be ready and clean clothes laid out 
on my cot. Books and toilet articles would be placed 
on a table beside a shining lantern, and an appetizing 
luncheon waiting for me on the veranda in the shade of 
the thatched roof. Such harmonious cooperation is, how- 





ever, only enjoyed where there is no friction. The irritable, 
bad-tempered person who is constantly interfering, direct- 
ing, and nagging, has no happiness on safari because 
there is much in the jungle to try his patience. 

The natives are uncannily quick to "size up" their white 
masters and like the small boy who delights in teasing the 
cat, even though he knows he will be punished for the 
offense, they conspire to find new ways to annoy a master 
or mistress whom they dislike. It is then that the kiboko 
(whip made of hippo hide) or the chicotte, the white 
man's badge of authority, is used with a vengeance. In 
the hands of a brutal white man these whips become a 
fiendish means of torture. 

With a surprising sense of delicacy the natives would 
retire from the vicinity of the resthouse as soon as camp 
was established so that I might rest and enjoy my luncheon 
in peace and quiet. This thoughtful consideration, I soon 
learned, was jungle etiquette. To stare at any one of im- 
portance while they are eating their food is considered 
rude and insulting. When the natives disregard this charm- 
ing custom, and stop to laugh and stare at the white trav- 
eler, the chances are that he brought it upon himself, through 
ignorance or because he left his own manners at home, as 
so many do, when he entered the bush. 

Pomp and ceremony are very dear to the heart of an 
African, and after luncheon my host, the Sultan, would make 
his official visit. Dressed in a stiff, voluminous, diaper- 
shaped garment of brown bark cloth, that rose above a broad 
belt of okapi skin like the petals of a flower, he headed an 
imposing procession across the palaver ground. Behind 


him came a guard of honor and then the royal chair bearer, 
who was followed by women and children carrying gifts of 
palm wine, pineapples, green corn, bananas, and tiny native 
chickens and eggs, some of which my cook returned, for 
obvious reasons, with scorn and hot words of condem- 

Since I was a woman, my host was accompanied by a few 
of his wives and their children. The favorite wife occupied 
the place of honor, at his feet, on the floor of the veranda, 
while the others knelt or sprawled with the rest of the vil- 
lagers on the ground in front of us. It was in the evening, 
however, when the strangeness of my presence had worn 
away, that they would turn out to destroy the night with 
song. Music, rising in strength with the hours and the 
flow of palm wine, would be regulated by the interminable 
thump of drums and the twang of snake-skin-and-ivory 

Men, women, and children would gather on the palaver 
ground. A leader would cry out a few staccato words; a 
chorus would carry up the refrain amid the clapping of 
hands and the shuffling of bare feet on the dry earth. Sit- 
ting on little ebony stools beside the doors of their huts, the 
old people would be teaching the youngsters the songs of 
their forefathers, and every now and then their shrill pipings 
would pierce through the mellow richness of the adult voices. 
As the swift, soft night descended, the huts and the wall of 
forest which surrounded them would be merged with the 
velvety blackness, and all I could see would be the laughing 
faces of the dancers as they swiftly passed to and fro in the 
firelight. Sometimes, if the resthouse were far enough re- 


moved from the din, and the tropical moonlight were at its 
full flood, the whole effect would call to mind the songs of 
descending angels in the "Dream of Gerontius." 

Sometimes these impromptu festivals would develop into 
orgies. The jungle women, dressed up in flowered gar- 
lands and ribbons of yellow palm fronds, their bodies freshly 
oiled and decorated in fantastic designs with colored pig- 
ments, would shout and yell and utter screams of laughter 
as they jumped, jumped, jumped for ceaseless hours. Both 
the men and women could dance, with only short intermis- 
sions, for days, in some tribal celebration that would surpass 
any of our Charleston contests. 

The whole community, Sultan, warriors, women, wizards, 
and babies, would unite. They would all howl, leap, wrig- 
gle, whirl, clap their hands, and drink; then sleep it off, 
and go at it again, until finally the whole village would be 
exhausted and even the mangy yellow dogs would wear a 
dejected look. 

As I watched such spectacles, week after week, for many 
months, all kinds of artificial word barriers faded away from 
my recollection. I forgot that any distinction could be 
made between a singer and an audience, "art*' and "appre- 
ciation," a child and an adult, the oppressor and the op- 
pressed. I forgot even the phrase "woman the toiler," as I 
watched her making up in riotous vigor for all she lacked 
in "economic emancipation." Soon I was saying to myself, 
"We may try to Christianize them. We may clothe them, 
rob them of their freedom and force civilization upon them, 
and even try to assimilate them, but we will never wholly 
understand them. For, after all is said and done, they are 



they and we are we, and no human effort, however earnest, 
can change that biological fact." 

As a woman, of course, I was first of all interested in the 
life of these other women of the plains and forest. Being 
a woman, and a solitary traveler, I was able to win their 
confidence and by the greatest tact, patience, and persistence 
make them my friends. "Where they went, there I went also. 
Whether it was to watch them toil in the hot sun, prepare 
the evening meal, tattoo their bodies, or gather about the 
watch fire to listen to the village orator or a primitive Kip- 
ling recount mythical stories of jungle birds and beasts 
there I lingered, always watching and listening. Sometimes 
I listened to them with a feeling of awe and admiration, 
always with interest, and often with profound respect. 

So much a part of their primitive life did I become that 
my presence was taken for granted. The shy young bride 
was pleased to have me watch the village "modiste" anoint 
her body with palm oil and help to don her vegetable wed- 
ding finery. Nor did they object to my contribution toward 
the hilarious celebration which lasted for days. The profes- 
sional undertakers and mourners did not hesitate to perform 
their gruesome tasks in my presence. Often, joking and 
laughing, they would begin, as is the custom, to arrange the 
limbs of the departing one and wrap them in strips of cloth, 
like the mummies of Egypt, before the breath of life had 
actually left their stiffening bodies. Women whose business 
it is to follow death from place to place are hired, like a 
soloist at our own funerals, and with genuine tears falling 
from their eyes they will weep and wail for days. 

The greatest privilege which they accorded me, however, 



was that o being "among those present" when their babies 
were born. 

At first, inevitably, my reaction was to help the women. 
By night I used to hear the screams of some unlucky wife, 
beaten because she was late coming in from the field to 
prepare dinner for her husband, who had been drinking palm 
wine all day in the shade of a thatched roof. I would stand 
it as long as I could, with covered ears, and then in despera- 
tion interfere. Once I went so far as to have one offending 
husband ducked in the river by my boys. But the very next 
day his wife came to my tent and insolently demanded cot- 
ton cloth for a new dress by way of compensation to her. 
The last time I tried to help was in a Pygmy village when 
the quick-tempered little Sultan chastised a careless wife 
for burning a choice piece of fat. Only a laugh averted a 
tragedy that day and then I swore off helping. 

The minds of both men and women, in most of these^ 
tribes, are far too simple to admit of any concept of wrong or 
even ill treatment. They react almost instantly, like ani- 
mals, from fury to terror, and then dissolve in peals of 
happy laughter. One second they will bristle with rage, 
gesticulate, and jabber wildly; the next, be rolling on the 
earth, yelling with uncontrollable mirth. And at least, 
among such folk, there is little of the hateful nagging and 
disagreeableness which are our more "civilized" methods 
of domestic warfare. 

In the evenings, when the one meal of the Congo day was 
being prepared and served, first to the male members of the 
household, in wooden bowls and on banana-leaf platters, 
I would walk among the women. They would gather be- 


hind the huts to gossip and wait for the leavings, unless they 
were successful in holding out on the men some titbit from 
the family supper for themselves. 

It is at this interesting hour, also, that all the babies in the 
village receive their daily baptism of water. Lying on shiny 
green banana leaves, the helpless infants are doused with 
cold water and left, gasping and screaming at the top of 
their lusty little lungs, to drain off like a dish. Then they 
are nursed and their shivering bodies anointed with thick, 
heavy palm oil. 

These primitive women of the bush and jungle were de- 
lighted to have me take an interest in their lives. And they 
seemed to find endless pleasure in coming to the resthouse 
to watch me dress and put up and take down my hair. They 
would ask me always whether I had a husband and children ; 
but never once manifested the slightest curiosity in the idea 
of a woman traveling alone and hunting wild animals like a 
man. Perhaps never having heard the word independence 
they were less eager for the reality. 

Of course, sophistication varies widely from tribe to tribe, 
Among the Pygmies, judging by my limited experience of 
three months with them, standards are hardly higher than 
those of wild animals. Other tribes, however, have strong 
ethical codes and fixed ideas about racial intermarrying. In 
some tribes girls are brought up as cautiously as jeunes 
filles, and purchased on the installment plan. Among 
some, trial marriage is practiced on a scale to win the hearty 
approval of our most advanced feminists. And the eternal 
triangle and the green-eyed monster often have their hearing 
in their courts of justice. 



As a rule, I found a community sentiment which takes 
the place of our individual rights. If a wife feels that she 
has had too much bad usage, she is privileged to run away, 
and her husband can argue in vain for the return of her 
dowry, which her father retains. On the other hand, a man 
may divorce his wife at will. They seldom do, however, 
because a woman represents money, ease for a man, and 
influence in the community. 

In most Congo tribes a man who can afford it has more 
than one wife, each having a separate hut for herself and 
her children, and all having equal rights. A man does not 
value a woman unless he buys her, jungle fashion, from 
her parent or her guardian. This transaction is equivalent 
to our benefit of clergy, and to my mind it is as sacred and 
binding as our own marriage ceremony with all its pomp, 
vanity, and hypocritical promises. There are those who are 
shocked at the "indecent" custom of these jungle folk and 
urge that laws be passed to limit a man to one wife. But 
these same good people make no effort to stop the traffic 
in husbands, in which wealthy fathers and socially ambitious 
mothers of civilized countries indulge. And they can read 
in our newspapers, almost daily, that the Church or State 
has granted some matrimonial acrobat, with means, the 
right to have more than his quota of wives. 

Africa is perhaps the only country in the world where 
there are no match-making mothers. Those delicate and 
diplomatic affairs are managed almost exclusively by the 
men. While male children are desyrable as warriors and add 
to the strength of the tribe, it is the females that represent 
the wealth of the individual family. They till the soil, carry 



the burdens, help build the huts, prepare and cook the food, 
make the pottery, and bring a substantial price in the 
marriage market. 

Fathers often make marriage contracts for their children 
when they are mere infants, as parents sometimes do in 
civilized countries. To bind the bargain the father of the 
boy pays something on account. Then from time to time, 
when the boy is taken to visit his fiancee, small installments 
are made, until finally, when the girl is about ten years old, 
the last installment is paid and the boy claims his bride. 
Sometimes a girl's future may be determined by two old 
cronies over a pot of palm wine, the prospective bridegroom 
taking a gambler's chance on the sex of the child before she 
is born. There is no such thing as a spinster in the human, 
bird, or beast world of Africa. Nature made the laws for 
her jungle folk and when left alone they follow them. 

If a woman has force of character, which many of the 
African women have, she may dominate the village, become 
a leader in the tribe, and even inherit her father's or her 
husband's office as Sultana. And in most of the villages I 
found some form of property right, A wife owns her own 
knives, garden tools, and jewelry, and these I was unable 
to purchase from her husband, who invariably referred me 
to her. 

In case of divorce, where there are children, the law in 
some tribes gives the female children to the mother, and the 
male remain in the custody of the father. This arrangement 
is often the cause of litigation and results in as much bitter 
feeling as do similar decisions in our own courts of justice. 
Children are sometimes kidnaped by their parents. I had 



one boy in my safari whose plucky mother, rather than give 
him up, fled with him into a terrible swamp. She lost her 
way and wandered about for days. Finally when she was 
.nearly dead from fright and exposure, she was rescued by 
the blacksmith of a hostile tribe. When I visited their vil- 
lage, which of course was several years later, she was bring- 
ing up her family of children, and the blacksmith, who 
seemed very prosperous, gave every indication that he was 
happy with the romance which had come to him in the 
swamp. The greeting between mother and son was casual 
indeed; although they had not met for a long time, their 
hands merely touched in greeting. One would never have 
believed, unless acquainted with the ways of primitive peo- 
ple, that she had risked so much to keep him with her when 
he was a child. 

As jungle marriages are seldom affairs of the heart, there 
is little jealousy among the various wives of a household. 
Consequently the women get on amazingly well together. 
This naturally encourages a man to add to his wealth of 
wives whenever he has the price. As "everybody works but 
father 1 ' he does not have to worry as some of our bigamists 
do about supporting their mates. 

Each wife is her own provider. She cultivates her own 
garden, makes her own vegetable costume, mixes her own 
cosmetics, buys her own jewelry, and pays for her beauty 
treatments plucking her eyebrows, dressing her hair, tattoo- 
ing and painting designs on her body with the produce of 
her own garden. 

There is one advantage in this primitive arrangement 
which, I am sure, the husbands of movie-mad, bridge-play- 



ing, dub-going wives will appreciate, and that is that when 
4:he. primitive man returns to his home, after a hard day of 
loafing, he always finds at least one of his wives and a 
few of his children there ready to spread his mat, bring 
forth the palm wine, and give him a cheery greeting. 



AFTER monkeys have lived with human beings for a time 
they are looked upon as outcasts by their wild relatives. 
And should one of them escape and return to the forest, as 
they sometimes do, and try to rejoin their tribe, they are 
attacked by the others and driven away or put to death. 

On several occasions I have seen wild monkeys chasing 
pets and once I witnessed an execution. It was a terrible 
thing, for monkeys are savage fighters and utterly relentless 
when excited and angry. Hatred, jealousy, and suspicion 
are as highly developed in the monkey family as in the 
human race. I have known monkeys to watch in concealment 
and wait, day after day, for an opportunity to kill a captive 

With all the patience of the proverbial Job they would lie 
motionless hour after hour, their bodies flattened against the 
limb of a tree, gazing down at a relative at play with its 
human friends. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, 
the little executioners would descend the tree stealthily and 
make a swift rush toward the outlaw. 

With disappointing inconsistency disappointing from a 
human standpoint captive monkeys will, almost invariably, 
desert their human friends for the companionship of their 
own kind or in their defense. Although the affection of 



monkeys for friends who belong to the human race is often 
very great, they will always join forces with a relative in 
an attack on a human being. 

The only reason I can advance, and it is merely a sugges- 
tion, for what we humans would call treachery, is that 
monkeys, like some people, are very temperamental and 
excitable. From the beginning of time their ancestors have 
had to fight and fight fiercely, and join forces to protect 
their lives and those of their families from their enemies. The 
habit of quick action is so natural with them that when they 
see a relative in trouble it causes a brain storm, and in their 
blind fury they leap to his rescue, not knowing or caring 
whether they are attacking a friend or an enemy. In almost 
every instance, however, where I have seen or heard of mon- 
keys turning on their human friends without just cause, their 
repentance after the brain storm had subsided was very 

To learn what is in the mind of a monkey, or any other 
wild animal for that matter, is not by any means so easy as 
we are sometimes led to believe. It takes mom than a breath- 
less race over the veldt with a pack of dog$ tad a lot of 
black boys, and a commercial interest in disposing of wild 
animals, to obtain an insight, ever so small, into their psy- 
chology. The results of such methods are haj^ly worth our 
consideration, for they are about as convincing as would be a 
report on the psychology of a nation made by one who only 
observed the reactions of prisoners of war. 

Of all the African monkeys the guerezas (colobus) are 
the handsomest. Their beauty is, however, their misfortune, 
for they are most cruelly and wickedly hunted for their long, 



silky black and white fur which is used by white people for 
commercial purposes, as well as by the natives, who not 
only eat their flesh but use their fur as ornaments for their 
war trappings. This fur is also used in making the sporrans 
of the officers of a certain British regiment. 

It would make the friends of these beautiful dumb crea- 
tures very sad indeed if they but knew how they are hunted 
and killed, and, what is worse, wounded and left in the 
crotches of high trees, where they cannot be dislodged, to 
suffer and die a slow death left by those whose only inter- 
est in them is the monetary value of their fur. There are 
laws to protect these monkeys, but I regret to say they are not 
often enforced. 

This beautiful monkey derives its name, colobus, from 
the Greek word signifying mutilated, because it has no 
thumbs. Sometimes, however, the thumb is indicated in in- 
dividual adult animals by a thumb-nail. Sometimes the very 
young animals have a tiny thumb, but as they grow and 
develop the thumb disappears, leaving only the nail. So 
human are these monkeys that some of my black boys 
claimed them as relatives and were constantly calling my 
attention to some man-like gesture of the animals. 

The colobus monkeys are very shy, retiring creatures, and 
when in repose their black faces, with fringe of white beard, 
deep-set eyes, and heavy muzzle, give them a serious, melan- 
choly look. I found these monkeys only mildly curious 
compared to the inquisitiveness of their smaller relatives, 
especially the vervets. But like the vervets they are en- 
dowed with a fine sense of smelling and hearing, and their 
eyesight is extraordinarily keen. 



The care and affection which the colobus mothers bestow 
upon their babies are equal to if not greater than that of 
human mothers. No treetop mother would permit her baby 
to go to bed before its eyes, nostrils, and ears were inspected 
and its fur groomed. When a baby monkey takes its first 
uncertain steps along the branch of a tree, like a human baby 
It is encouraged and protected by an anxious mother's 
outstretched arms. 

If the baby stops to put a leaf or a berry into its mouth, 
the mother scolds and quickly grasps it by the back of its 
head, and holds it firmly while she inserts her finger into 
Its mouth and removes the tabooed morsel. Exactly like a 
human child, the baby rebels by squealing and squirming 
and waving its hands. Often it will continue to cry and 
squeal until a stern old male barks out a warning to be quiet. 

It is almost impossible to photograph these monkeys in 
their wild state owing to the denseness of the forests and 
their habit of living high up in the gigantic forest trees, 
where the branches are covered with arboreal growths which 
offer splendid cover protection for them. When they lie 
flat on the limbs amidst the orchids, ferns, and graybeard 
moss, their black and white fur blends so well with their 
surroundings that only the practiced eye of a native hunter 
can detect them. The sportsman usually fires his gun into 
the trees to rout them out, and when the terrified and con- 
fused animals are trying to escape he shoots them down. 

When at home in the forest their food consists chiefly of 
leaves, the berries of the juniper tree, insects, tree gums, and 
acid fruits. They also make frequent excursions to the 
ground where they catch insects and dig in the dirt with their 



long slender fingers for roots and bulbs, of which they are 
inordinately fond. They are, however, essentially a tree 
animal and do not come to the ground to play and wander 
about as the other apes and monkeys do. This may be owing 
to the denseness of the underbrush in the forests in which 
they live and to the activity of their enemy the leopard. 

Although the colobus monkeys are thumbless the lack does 
not impair their grasping powers. When playing or fright- 
ened they will make a fifty-foot leap from one treetop down 
to another with the ease and grace of a bird. They land 
with hands and feet outspread, and grasping the branches, 
which bend perilously under their weight, to help them keep 
their equilibrium, they go from tree to tree with remarkable 
balance and rapidity. 

It is one of the most pleasing sights of the Kenya Forest 
to see a troop of these monkeys chasing one another and 
playing hide and seek among the leaves, ferns, and lovely 
orchids. As they make their hazardous and breath-taking 
flights through the air their big, bushy tails stick out to guide 
them like the rudder of a ship, and the long, silky white 
fringe on their back spreads out and floats about them like 
a cloud. 

The colobus monkeys are quite large and heavy; an old 
male will weigh from thirty-five to forty pounds. When 
they are in flight, jumping from tree to tree, branches crash- 
ing against branches under their weight, it sounds like a 
herd of elephants charging through the forest. On more 
than one occasion when stalking elephants, a troop of colo- 
bus monkeys in sudden flight has brought our rifles to our 
shoulders and our fingers to the trigger guard. 



Amusing incidents frequently happen when a hunting 
party is startled by the sudden crashing flight of a troop of 
monkeys. Sometimes a white man or a gun bearer whose 
courage seemed unquestionable will start to climb a tree or 
turn as if to bolt. I have seen two and three people try to 
climb the same tiny tree in their excitement, before they 
realized what they were doing; and I have even been- pushed 
back by those who reached the tree first. 

Sometimes the hunter will begin to stalk an imaginary 
herd of elephants and then, much to his chagrin, discovers 
that it is after all only a runaway troop of colobus. Once 
when we were hunting elephants in the bamboo forests on 
the Aberdare Range, we had for guide a fine old man of the 
Wakikuyu tribe. I nicknamed him "J oe y" a ^ ter a we ll~ 
known British statesman whom he resembled in features as 
well as in his aristocratic manner. Joey was very sensitive 
and extremely proud of the fact that he knew every inch of 
the forests and the habits of the wild animals which 
inhabited them. 

In the early evening when the icy wind swept across the 
mountain top and eerie sounds came up from the dark 
canyons, the bare-legged old man would come and squat 
beside our rousing camp ire to enjoy the warmth and smoke 
our tobacco, which he dearly loved. Usually after a few 
puffs he would throw his head back and stare for a few mo- 
ments into the feathery bamboo leaves which were dancing 
over our heads in the heat of the fire, Then pulling the 
Byrax skin cape about his lean shoulders he would hitch 
himself a little closer to the flame and tell us fascinating: 
stories of elephants and other wild animals. 




With an enviable gift for mimicry and a native's love for 
story-telling he would describe the thrilling and narrow es- 
capes he had had while hunting them. He would argue 
with our gun bearers over the strange and various sounds that 
filled the night. And he insisted that he knew every sound 
made by bird or beast so well that he could not be deceived 
by any of them. When, in unison, the gun bearers ridiculed 
this statement he would glance at us to learn our attitude 
and then with a sly smile point with convincing pride to 
the gray hairs that sprinkled his kinky locks, and grandly 
toss his cape back from his shoulders to show us his un- 
scarred body as evidence that his wisdom had saved him 
from, injury. 

But like many people who love to boast he finally met his 
Waterloo, in what to him was a most embarrassing way. 
One day we were following him silently through the forest, 
on a path that was made soft as a velvet carpet by gray- 
green moss and damp bamboo leaves, when suddenly just 
ahead of us there came the crashing of branches and the 
loud rattling report of hollow bamboo trees striking against 
one another. 

Instantly our hearts flew to our throats and our hands 
to our rifles. Only Joey was calm. With all the assurance 
of one who is used to such breath-taking situations he whis- 
pered the one magic word tembo (elephant) and raised 
his slender hand to enjoin silence. Then, as we followed 
close at his heels, he stalked carefully and cautiously for- 
ward. As we were entering a dense clump of trees, about 
thirty yards from where we started there was a sudden crash- 
ing of branches over our heads, and a shower of icy water 



and debris descended upon us as a troop of colobus mon- 
keys went leaping in every direction. It was too humiliating 
for the old man, and when we laughed over his mistake he 
burst into tears. That evening when the gun bearers good- 
naturedly burlesqued the little comedy and made Joey the 
butt of their jokes he began to cry again, and grasping a fire- 
brand in one hand and his spear in the other he started for 
home. It required some tact to coax him back to the fire 
and then it was only by the most blatant flattery by pre- 
senting him with tobacco and by mimicking our own terror 
when the monkeys frightened us that we finally induced 
him to remain and continue the hunt. 

The colobus monkeys are the "Big Bens" of the Kenya 
forests. They are the first to rise in the morning and tell 
the animal world that it is time to wake up and earn their 
breakfast by foraging for it. And at the first sound of their 
morning call the night-prowling animals retreat to their 
lairs or seek a place to hide. No matter how chill the morn- 
ing air, nor how drenched their silky coats from the tropic 
downpour, nor how heavy and dense the mist and fog that 
hangs over their forest home, these timekeepers of the 
animal world salute the dawn with weird, chanting calls. 
So faithful are they that we could set our man-made watches 
by their accuracy. 

There is an extraordinary fascination in watching wild 
monkeys in their native haunts, because of the many sur- 
prises which their lives and habits have in store for the 
patient observer. One of the most delightful surprises I 
received during my many months of observing monkeys in 
the Kenya forests was learning that the colobus monkeys 



Indulge in what might be called community singing. Very 
early in the morning, right after the "Big Bens" have given 
their warning, and at intervals during the day, they have 
song fests in which the whole troop joins. They seem to be 
an inspiration for one another, for the moment one troop 
begins to sing other troops in different parts of the forest 
follow suit until the green rafters ring with the remarkable 
sounds they make. It always reminded me of the community 
singing which was so popular in canteens during the World 
War, only in the forest there were no jarring notes. By 
patient watching with my field glasses I discovered they had 
leaders who begin by giving a few rather low, hoarse notes. 

Instantly the others are all attention and they sit on the 
branches with pursed lips waiting for their cue, which 
comes when the leader raises his voice. Then with one ac- 
cord they join in, their voices rising with a sort of humming, 
rolling sound which is wild, weird, and indescribably fasci- 
nating. Some of them sing just a little slower than the 
others and in a slightly different key, which gives variety. 
When they reach their highest notes, they go down the scale 
again with a rolling sound, and just when you think they 
are going to stop they raise their voices and begin all over 

The monkeys perform only in the daytime and they have 
long intermissions between numbers. Their song is, how- 
ever, so very unusual with its wild, weird notes echoing 
through the vast forest, that it leaves a pleasing and unfor- 
gettable impression upon the listener. 

Perhaps I am a bit sentimental over the song of the 
colobus, as no doubt it means more to me than it usually 



does to other travelers. Once when I made a very trying 
night journey through the Kenya forests to rescue my com- 
panion, who had been mauled by an elephant, it was the 
colobus chorus that brought to me and my black com- 
panions the welcome news of the approaching dawn. 

The colobus monkeys do not live long when taken away 
from their forest homes. They pine for the freedom of the 
treetops and the companionship of their own kind. Many 
of those who are taken captive refuse food and actually 
starve themselves to death. Once when I was in the Kenya 
forests for several weeks, our porters captured a female 
colobus. I put her in a large cage made of young saplings 
just outside my tent, where she remained for several days. 
She refused to eat any kind of food, and when I approached 
her cage she hung her head in a shamed, dejected manner 
and would not look at me. Finally I felt so sorry for her 
that I let her go. Then to my great surprise I discovered 
that the poor thing had given birth to a baby. Whether it 
was born dead or whether she killed it at birth I do not 
know, but the remarkable thing about it was that she had 
actually buried the body of the baby beneath a mound of 
leaves and grass which she had gathered together oa the 
floor of her cage. 

Recently, when I was at Meru, in the Kenya Colony, I 
visited a sawmill in the Meru Forest just north of Mt. 
Kenya. My visit was for the purpose of photographing a 
colobus monkey, a pet, belonging to the engineer in charge 
of the mill. This monkey was a beautiful creature, ap- 
parently very happy and free to go into the trees after food 
and roam about the place unhampered by chain or collar, 



This handsome animal might easily be called the jungle 
queen of the movies because she has been photographed so 
many times. And she has also appeared in the films, both 
in England and in America, under the nom de plume of a 
wild monkey. She was a strong, healthy, vigorous animal, 
with a very handsome coat. She slept in the house with 
the engineer and always shared his breakfasts, coming to the 
table and sitting in a chair in a quiet, well-behaved way. 
During the daytime she played about the grounds between 
the sawmill and the house, wrestling with the black boys 
or romping with the pack of mongrel dogs who 
played as roughly with her as if she were one of their own 

s >She went into the trees after leaves and berries, but rarely 
did she leave the vicinity of the mill, because on the few 
occasions when she did, she was pursued by her wild rela- 
tives, who followed her at the risk of their own lives right 
back to the mill. They lurked in the near-by trees for days 
afterwards, waiting for an opportunity to attack her. The 
engineer told me that once she had a very narrow escape 
when she strayed too far and was rescued only just in time 
to save her life. As she fled through the trees before her 
pursuers her frightened screams and their hoarse, diabolical 
shrieks resounded through the forest and brought the men 
and dogs to her rescue. This monkey was apparently per- 
fectly happy in her semi-captivity, but her life was so nearly 
normal in regard to her freedom and her diet that she could 
hardly be otherwise. 

She made friends with me very quickly, but displayed only 
a mild interest in me and my big box camera. She reserved 



her more cordial welcome for one of my boys whose hair 
and body she seemed to think needed her special attention. 
I longed (but did not ask) for an invitation to pitch my tent 
among the mighty trees where I could watch that monkey 
daily, for it was an ideal way to study the elusive and sensi- 
tive colobus. 

The baboons are also amusingly human, as I discovered 
during a two weeks' stay at Lucania Hills. These hills were 
alive with baboons, hundreds and hundreds of them in 
troops and families. One family used to come every night 
to sleep in a tree just back of our camp. 

The mothers with the young baboons on their backs came 
up from the plains, where they had been hunting for food 
all day, and climbed the wall of rocks. Even though the 
wall seemed absolutely perpendicular, these baboons would 
find a foothold and reach the top. The big, old male baboons, 
weighing at least seventy-five pounds, would come down 
perhaps fifty yards nearer our tents than the mothers, who 
stayed with the babies on the rocks above. Here they would 
sit on scout duty, their chins propped on their hands, where 
they could see over the whole country. Meanwhile, the 
mothers prepared their children for bed by taking them on 
their laps and picking off the burrs and ticks. 

If one of the babies, with its head hanging over the 
mother's lap, would try to play, reaching out its hand to 
another baby on the ground, the mother would take it up 
and slap it and shake it just as human mothers do, and 
screaming loudly she would stoop over and make a motion 



with her hand as if she were looking for a stick or some- 
thing to throw at the baby on the ground. Whereupon the 
little monkey would scamper off. 

The one punishment was never sufficient, however, to 
teach the baby to lie quiet on the mother's lap, and it would 
have to be spanked two or three times before it was ready 
for bed. Then they would race for the tree and we could 
hear the babies squealing and fighting for the best places, 
probably to get next to their own mothers. 

It gets dark very quickly in equatorial Africa, and the 
monkeys have to hurry into the treetops to escape their 
ground-prowling enemies. One night we were awakened by 
a great commotion among the baboons and we realized that 
a tragedy was taking place. In the morning we found that 
a leopard had been there and after that the baboon family 
did not come to its tree. 

Sometimes old male baboons get very ugly, and in certain 
parts of the country where they are unmolested, they become 
very bold and the natives fear them. Once when we were 
hunting in Uganda, the natives came to our camp and begged 
us to go with them and shoot a baboon that had killed a 
child. He was a huge beast with enormously heavy shoul- 
ders and long, yellow fangs. When standing upright he 
looked as tall as a man. 

I was told by the natives living on the edge of the Bu- 
dongo Forest that chimpanzees have similar habits and often 
kill children when they come out of the forest to raid the 
native gardens. But I found no proof of this and native 
information is very unreliable. I believe, however, that such 



a tragedy might easily occur if a child startled them by com- 
ing upon them suddenly, or if the animals were interfered 
with while feeding. 

The real truth concerning the habits and characteristics of 
apes and monkeys can be learned only through exhaustive 
study. Years must be spent by the student in the lonely 
forests where the animals live. No caged animal or stuffed 
museum specimen with distorted bodies and horrid glass 
eyes can tell us the fascinating life history of the wild, free 
creatures. It is greatly to be regretted that much of our 
information about these interesting animals has been gained 
by deduction, by travelers 1 tales, and by studying captured 
animals that are living unnatural lives in cages on a man- 
selected diet. 

By comparison, the apes and monkeys vary in their dis- 
positions as much as do human beings. One animal may be 
lazy, another energetic, one aggressive and ready to attack 
without provocation, while another will be a pacifist and run 
away to avoid trouble. From my own experiences in Africa 
with the big apes like the chimpanzees and baboons, I be- 
lieve they are quite capable of attacking human beings when 
frightened or roused to anger. Once when we were crossing 
the unexplored part of the Budongo Forest to Lake Albert, 
we surprised a family of chimpanzees in the top of a giant 
tree and tried to take photographs of them. The half-grown 
youngsters managed to get away to the other trees on the 
interlacing branches, but the three adults in the group could 
not follow on account of their great weight. When they 
realized that escape was impossible they became infuriated, 
and with blood-chilling screams they jumped up and down 



on the limbs and beat the trunk of the tree with their hands. 
Their shrill, piercing cries of rage were terrifying and went 
echoing through the forest. Twice the big black powerful 
creatures came part way down the tree and threatened us. 
They opened their mouths and drew their lips nervously 
back and forth over their big yellow teeth. They foamed 
with rage and screamed and roared. 

When we did not budge they returned to the heights 
above and in their blind rage tore at the leaves and moss. 
Finally in sheer desperation they tore huge branches off 
the tree and deliberately dragged them from one side of the 
tree to the other and thrust them at us. For years these 
animals had been protected by the game laws and had not 
been hunted or harmed. And yet they gave us a very good 
demonstration of what might have happened had we met 
them in a tight place on the ground face to face. It is my 
opinion that the baboons are the most intelligent members 
of the ape family and the big gorillas are the morons. 

On my recent journey up the Tana River, I was more 
than repaid for the hardships which the long journey in un- 
comfortable dugout canoes entailed, by the opportunity it 
afforded for observing monkeys. Many people, I believe, 
imagine that the wild monkeys are unclean and have habits 
like their caged relatives. No greater mistake could be made, 
for wild monkeys are the cleanest animals in existence. 
Unlike cats or dogs they will not eat or even touch any- 
thing decayed or evil-smelling. Their food is always fresh, 
their bodies healthy, and their breath as sweet and clean as 
a healthy human baby's. 

I remember how surprised and delighted I was the first 



time I took a wild monkey in my hands and found that its 
body was as clean as if it had just been bathed and its fur 
as sweet-smelling, soft, and silky as a fastidious woman's 
hair. Perhaps no other wild animal holds the universal in- 
terest that monkeys do, but in many people this interest is 
often destroyed by a dislike and an aversion which caged 
animals seem to inspire. It will surprise those who are not 
acquainted with the habits of wild monkeys to learn that 
in the jungle monkeys live in large families and that each 
member of the family has certain duties to perform. They 
are well organized. There is a head of the family who, by 
right of might, is so much the master that his bark is law 
and must be obeyed by all. To watch one of these autocrats 
dictating to his family is as amusing as any comedy that can 
be imagined. Children are disciplined in the good old- 
fashioned way by spanking and cuffing their ears. They 
quarrel among themselves, and like children of the human 
family, some have violent tempers while others have amiable, 
gentle dispositions. They have their heroes and heroines 
and also their bullies and cowards. As mothers the mon- 
keys have no equal, their devotion being constant until their 
baby is able to look after itself. 

It was a matter of ever-recurring surprise and amusement 
that the monkeys have traits and habits common to human 
beings, one of the most conspicuous being the greediness and 
selfishness of the males. They take the choice bits of food 
if they happen to be near when a choice bit is found. I an- 
noyed my porters exceedingly by calling their attention to 
this fact on several occasions, when they took food from 
women. It is the native custom for the women of the house- 



hold to serve the men and boys the choice of whatever the 
family dinner may supply, and when they have finished their 
repast the women may have whatever is left. It annoyed 
my boys to be compared to monkeys, but whenever I heard 
them haggling with the women over food or robbing their 
cooking pots I had only to mention the one word kima 
(monkey) to send them off about their business. 

This selfish habit on the part of monkeys may explain 
why they eat so rapidly and are constantly turning their heads 
as if expecting some one to snatch their food. Once I saw 
an old male grasp a youngster by the scruff of the neck and 
take something which he wanted for himself out of his 
mouth, and when he cried and shrieked over his loss, he was 
chased up a tree where he sat and sobbed as he gazed sadly 
down at the others, who continued their breakfast utterly 
unconcerned with his grief. 

The monkeys on the lower Tana range up and down the 
river and also travel some distance out on the desert in search 
of food. They are rarely molested by the natives, who do 
not eat their flesh or use their fur for clothing as do the 
natives in other parts of the country. To keep them out of 
their gardens, however, the natives resort to the old-fash- 
ioned way of throwing stones at them in a frantic effort to 
frighten them away, and occasionally one is killed by a 
poisoned arrow. But on the whole the monkeys and baboons 
on the lower Tana River live an ideal monkey existence. 

They have their natural enemies, of course, which Nature 
in her wisdom meant them to have, like, for instance, 
leopards, snakes, crocodiles, eagles, and other carnivorous 
creatures. Happily these monkeys have had but little ex- 



perience with the white man and his murderous weapons, 
for this part of the Tana Valley is still a closed district. I 
doubt if it will ever be a popular hunting ground for the 
maladadi (dandy) sportsman. 

The climate is very unhealthful and the sun terrifically 
hot. The reflection on the water blisters the face and hands, 
and if the traveler wears glasses, as did I, the glare dulls 
the vision and affects the eyes like a burning glass. Insect 
pests are there in great variety and eager to establish friendly 
relations with newcomers at once. 

The river is the main highway, and it has a swift and 
dangerous current to negotiate. The small dugout canoes 
used by the natives look as if they were ready to turn turtle 
if the occupants but moved, and these holiowed-out tree 
trunks also have yawning holes in their sides which are 
patched and repatched with mud many times during a jour- 
ney. They are not nearly as comfortable and inviting as the 
high-powered motorcars that are waiting at Nairobi to whisk 
the modern big-game hunters off to the depleted game fields. 
But the old leaky canoes have a romantic lure and an inde- 
finable charm which the modern big-game hunter who dashes 
over the veldt in motorcars will never know. 

I carried on this journey up the river some powerful flash- 
lights for the purpose of watching the monkeys at night 
and was delighted to learn that the small monkeys, as well 
as the baboons, have sentinels who keep guard while the 
family sleeps. I also learned that these guards are changed 
once during the night, and that the hour for this ceremony 
is as well timed as if the animals had been trained ia His 
Majesty's service. 




At one lovely camp where a family o baboons slept in 
a tree close to my tent, I sat up for four nights in succes- 
sion watching them. At 11:30 on the dot, by my watch, the 
guard was changed, the one who had been relieved ascend- 
ing the tree and spending the rest of the night with the 

It was also interesting to note that the females with 
babies and the younger generation occupied the topmost 
branches, well out of reach of their enemy, the leopard, and 
that the older animals occupied the branches directly be- 
neath them. The observation post, where the sentry sat, 
was of course in the same tree but several feet lower down. 
He sat in a crotch in the middle of the tree so nothing could 
pass without his knowledge. The first night I used the flash- 
light on this family they were very nervous and I doubt if 
any of them slept very soundly. But after they got used to 
me and the light, they seemed to have a feeling of security. 
For when I flashed them, they merely raised their heads 
sleepily and dropped them again without changing their posi- 
tions. Sometimes to vary the monotony of the night, I con- 
versed with the sentry in monkey language as I had heard 
them doing with one another. I am not prepared to say what 
we talked about, but whatever it was, the lonely sentry seemed 
to understand and enjoy our conversation. I would grunt at 
him and immediately there would come an answering grunt; 
I used different intonations and varied the grunts. The 
sentinels were always garrulous old boys, rather lonesome, 
I think, and always ready for a chat. As soon as I stopped 
grunting, they never interrupted me, they would answer 
right back and they varied their grunts and intonations just 



as I did. They would often punctuate their remarks by 
scratching their heads or their bodies, not at all unlike some 
human beings; then again they would bend over and thrust 
their heads forward. Sometimes they would open their 
mouths, and show their big teeth after a grunt, and shake 
the branch of the tree like a politician trying to impress his 
audience with some vital remark in his address, 

It is not unusual for monkeys to converse with each other 
even when they are some distance apart. I have often 
listened to them in the jungle, and the monkeys I kept in cap- 
tivity frequently conversed with each other when they were 
in separate rooms. That monkeys have a language of their 
own there can be no doubt, for one has only to watch the 
functioning of their social organizations to arrive at this 

My interesting conversations with the baboon sentries 
were often rudely interrupted by owls. There are many 
varieties living in the dense forests which border the Tana 
River and they are never molested by the natives, who have 
a superstitious fear about killing them. Our camp fire 
seemed to attract them and every evening they would perch 
in the trees directly over our heads and "whoo whoo" at one 
another. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their weird cries 
when my black boys were awake and chatting aroun$ the 
fire. But on nights when the tired men slept and I watched 
alone, I acknowledge frankly that I have often found my- 
self bathed in cold perspiration and actually afraid to leave 
the fireside and retire to my tent. It was creepy to sit under 
the dimly lit canopy of foliage with the sleeping men swathed 
from head to feet in their cotton garments, as they prepare 



for burial, and to suddenly hear a swift rush of wings and 
the uncanny "whoo whoo" coming out of the dark. There 
was one owl that used to shake its head and whine like a 
dog when I turned the flashlight upon him, and there was 
another one whose cry used to give me the shivers. The 
first time I heard it I thought some animal was in distress 
and fighting for its life. But my boys assured me that it 
was only an owl. 1 learned later that the natives fear this 
owl and firmly believe that it has the power to bewitch 
young children and cause their death. 

To conciliate the owl and win its favor, the women who 
are about to become mothers make offerings of rats, birds, 
and young chickens. They impale these bodies on long, 
sharp sticks and place them at the entrance to their village. 
It never occurs to them that the hawks or vultures may get 
the offerings. To know that they have been taken suffices. 
The supreme faith of the superstitious natives of Africa is 
one of the most wonderful things in this world. 

One of the many amusing sights of the jungle is to 
watch a troop of baboons retiring for the night. Just before 
sundown they gather in the trees near the one the old scout 
has selected for their sleeping quarters. But no member 
of the family may go to the selected tree until the old scout 
and his aids make a tour of inspection to see if the coast is 
clear. This takes time because they work around from tree 
to tree very cautiously. In the interval no human mother 
with a large family of tired, healthy children could be busier 
than these tree-dwelling mothers. Their problems are much 
the same as a human mother's. The children are cross, tired, 
and sleepy after their busy day but each one must be made 



ready for bed. Ears, nostrils, and eyes are inspected and 
furry coats groomed before they can cuddle up for the 

When the old scout gives the signal bark for retiring, 
there is a general rush for the tree. All but the night guard 
retire to the topmost branches, where the youngsters squab- 
ble and squeal until the guard barks out a warning which 
always sounded to me like, "Shut up, can't you!" If the one 
warning did not suffice he would shake the tree and make 
a move as if to ascend it. This usually settled the matter, 
and silence reigned with the dark. 

One night while watching a family of baboons preparing 
for bed I witnessed an incident which was so human and 
ludicrous that even the black boys who were with me were 
convulsed with laughter. We were watching a big mother 
baboon that was holding her tired, sleepy baby between her 
knees and grooming its head. She had got as far as its ears 
and had just turned one of them back to inspect it when she 
suddenly gave a sharp grunt and slapped the baby's head. 
The next instant she was holding it from her with one hand 
while she stretched out her leg and began brushing her fur 
with the other. Her actions couldn't have been more nat- 
ural had she been a human mother chastising her baby for 
responding to Nature's demand. 

The adolescent, love-making baboons are another very 
human and amusing sight. The females are like flappers 
the world over and delight in making their boy friend 
jealous by flirting with his rivals in the early stages of their 
courtship. One couple that I watched every day for a week 
offered no end of amusement. Early in the moraiog when 



the troop went foraging for their breakfasts the affectionate 
pair would leave the others and hunt by themselves. On 
several occasions I saw the gallant male dig up a luscious 
bulb and actually give the female the first bite before taking 
it for himself. I have also seen the coy one gallop away and 
hide behind a bush and then peek out to see if she was 
being followed. 

After their breakfast the pair usually came and sat on a 
boulder between my tent and the river. Utterly oblivious 
of the fact that they were being watched by me and my boys, 
they would proceed to groom their fur, stopping frequently 
during the operation to embrace and fondle each other. 
Sometimes they would yawn and take a nap. Clasped in 
each other's arms, they would sit, her head on his shoulder, 
and doze. Every few moments he would rouse himself and 
make a quick survey of the surrounding bush in the interest 
of their safety. 

One day after they had enjoyed a prolonged nap I saw this 
jungle sheik put his hand under his adored one's chin, and 
bending her head back he leaned over and actually rubbed 
his face against hers. And then they sat there grunting and 
gurgling with delight. The peals of laughter which greeted 
this little comedy and which I was powerless to suppress, for 
I laughed as heartily as did the boys, drove the loving pair 
off the rock. There was something so familiar about the 
monkeys' actions that I began to wonder if I had not read 
a description of it in some book. I tried to think of all the 
stories I had read and then suddenly I recalled that from the 
windows of my New York apartment, which overlooked 
Central Park, I had often been amused by similar love scenes 



between couples who used to come and sit on the benches 
under the trees. Incidents like the one just described can 
be recorded and the reader given an insight, slight though 
it may be, into the fascinating lives and habits of wild ani- 
mals. But there is much that the observer cannot share with 
others little mannerisms, facial expressions, amusing inci- 
dents, all very significant in themselves, but which would 
lose their meaning and their charm in the telling. 

I regretted exceedingly my inability to remain in this 
camp and continue my observations of the devoted pair, pri- 
marily because I was very keen to learn if the young couple 
would leave the paternal rooftree and begin housekeeping 
by themselves after they were married. I like to believe that 
they did, for I have great faith in the wisdom of the 
baboons. Unfortunately my food supply was limited, and 
as I was on my way across an uninhabited desert country, a 
journey requiring many weeks* travel with no means of re- 
plenishing my supply, it was unwise to remain. Never have 
I disliked leaving a camp more than I did this one. I 
realized that I was missing an opportunity which perhaps 
would never come my way again. Reluctantly I gave orders 
to prepare for an early start the following morning. We 
packed bags and boxes, patched the leaky canoes with mud 
so there would be no delay in getting off; then, accompanied 
by AH who carried gifts of printed cotton cloth and red 
bandanna handkerchiefs, I went to the near-by village to say 
farewell to the chief, who had accompanied me on several 
hunting excursions into the desert during my stay at this 
camp. He was so pleased with my gifts, including the blade 



of a safety razor wfaldi I fitted into the end of a stick for 
him, that he gave me in return a handsome carved snuffbox. 

After I had taken several photographs of him in various 
positions which he fancied, the whole village escorted me 
along the jungle trail back to my own camp. They hung 
about the kitchen and became so exceedingly interested in 
the preparations for my dinner that I thought I should never 
be able to get rid of them. Finally just before sundown they 
disappeared one by one and then I had my bath and an 
early dinner. Owing to a visit the night before from a band 
of lions who roared and came annoyingly close to our little 
camp, the men built two huge camp fires for our protection. 
The light from these fires illuminated the forest and I could 
see quite plainly the baboon family in their tree. They were 
huddled close together; some had their arms around each 
other and it was very apparent that they did not like the 
glare of our fire because every one of them, even the sentry, 
sat with bowed head and back to the light. Their vision 
was, no doubt, affected by the light just as ours is by strong 
automobile headlights. The family looked so peaceful 
there in the treetop that I hadn't the heart to disturb them. I 
knew that it would be their last happy night, for we had 
seen the telltale tracks of a leopard that had been prowling 
around the camp for several nights, and when we left I was 
sure that he would pay a visit to the baboon family. 

AH, my tent boy, called me before daylight the next morn- 
ing and served breakfast on a table placed beside the camp 
fire. A ghostly white mist hid the river and enveloped the 
forest along the banks. It was so cold and damp that in 
spite of my lined trench coat which had served me faithfully 



in heatless France during the war, I shivered. An appetite 
is an elusive sort of thing in the early morning in the tropics, 
but experience had taught me that it is always best to have 
a substantial breakfast before starting on a journey, no mat- 
ter how short the distance. One never knows how the jungle 
and its denizens may change one's plans. My breakfast 
consisted of papaya, nicely chilled by hanging overnight in a 
wet cloth under the fly of my tent. There was native honey 
which was very dark in color, and in taste not unlike our 
own buckwheat honey. Then there was toast, made of white 
bread which I had prepared myself with flour brought from 
England and native banana beer in lieu of yeast. The 
bread was raised by the heat of the sun and baked in a 
covered pan on a little fire which was made between three 
stones. I baked cakes and pies in the same primitive oven. 
It takes time to have these luxuries in the jungle, but it is well 
worth the effort because one often suffers from the strange 
concoctions prepared by badly trained 'native cooks. 

The coffee, the last but perhaps the most important item 
on my breakfast menu, was grown in the Kenya Colony. I 
tasted it first at a hotel in Mombasa when 1 was preparing 
for my river safari. The flavor was so delicious that I im- 
mediately purchased a supply for the journey. It took no 
small amount of time and patience to teach my cook how 
to prepare it, but the result was well worth the trouble. 

While I ate my breakfast the men took down my tent 
and loaded the boats. They worked silently as natives 
always do in the early morning, and as they passed back and 
forth in the lurid light of fire and fog, they looked spooky 
indeed. The day was just dawning when I went down to the 



river and took my place in the first boat. As we pushed away 
from the bank and were lost from our companions in the 
drifting fog, a flock of Egyptian geese flew over our heads 
and honked eerily. The superstitious men were delighted. 
They said it was a good omen, and remembering my school- 
day superstition I was quite willing and eager to accept their 

The men were experienced canoemen as all the natives 
living along the Tana are bound to be, for the river is the 
main highway. They maneuvered the boats skillfully and 
steered them carefully from one side of the river to the 
other to avoid sand bars, boulders, half -submerged trees, and 
treacherous rapids. From a canvas-covered deck chair which 
was wedged tightly between the sides of the largest of the 
hollowed logs, dignified by the name of canoe, I peered into 
the fog and watched for obstacles ahead. Sometimes when 
we found ourselves unexpectedly in a tight place, where we 
were obliged to fight the treacherous current, I would take 
a paddle and work as frantically as the men, and often we 
would wait beside the bank for the canoes I had engaged 
five for the journey that were following us, and cupping 
our hands like a megaphone we would shout instructions 
for their guidance. 

The animals living in the desert through which the Tana 
flows come to the river to drink, and some of them travel 
forty and fifty miles to quench their thirst. They usually 
drink either in the early morning or late evening, and when 
we paddled silently along close to the bank we could hear a 
snort or a whistle and a great crashing in the bushes as some 
frightened animal bounded away in the jungle. Owing to 



the fog it was impossible to see what they were. The river 
teemed with bird life; perhaps no greater variety could be 
found anywhere in Africa than on the lower Tana, including, 
as they did, both water birds and the forest variety. 

Sometimes when we rounded a sand bar very quietly great 
flocks of pelicans, black and white ibises, terns, cranes, geese, 
and ducks would rise on the air and in their confusion fly so 
dose to us that the men could touch them with their paddles, 
and once the boy i%the bow of my boat caught one in his 
hand and we made a pet of it. It was intensely fascinating 
to glide up to a roosting-tree which overhung the water and 
hear the whirr of guinea fowl and the frightened squawks 
of other birds as they rose in alarm from the branches. 

The birds and animals, however, did not monopolize all 
the fright. There were times when a great splashing in the 
water followed by the booming bellow of a hippo sent us 
paddling in frantic haste toward the bank. Once when we 
swung our boat around- hurriedly to avoid an inquisitive old 
hippo that came toward us blowing and diving, a big fish 
caused no end of amusement by jumping out of the water 
and landing in our boat, thus providing a very nice breakfast 
for the men. 

The sun rises quickly in the tropics and we hadn't been 
on the water more than an hour before the red ball of fire 
was sending opalescent rays dancing through the mist. As 
the light grew brighter and the fog lifted I could see snow- 
white egrets and other birds on the branches of their roosting- 
trees overhanging the stream. Some were busy preening 
their beautiful feathers, others were walking slowly about, 
their heads cocked on one side as if listening, and sometimes 



they stopped and lazily stretched a leg against a widespread 

There were thousands upon thousands of weaver birds flut- 
tering and chattering around nests which dangled from the 
branches of trees like decorations on a Christmas tree. These 
nests are very curious in shape and usually found in large 
colonies ; the nests are round as a ball, made of grass beau- 
tifully woven and softly lined. The entrance to the nest is 
at the bottom through a tunnel of ^bven grass which is 
about ten or fifteen inches long and about two inches in 
diameter. Although these birds build their nests close to- 
gether in these great colonies, they aj^ very noisy and also 
very quarrelsome. 

The brighter and hotter grew the sun, the livelier and 
busier became the life along the river. Strange sounds 
reached us from all sides, the buzzing of millions of insects 
filled the air. Baboons barked; small monkeys screamed; 
doves, woodpeckers, finches, hornbills, and hosts of other 
birds added their quota to the fascinating sounds. 

The sunshine cheered the men who, relieved of the nerv- 
ous strain of steering the boats through the fog, began to 
sing. They had songs suitable for every occasion and many 
of them were of a religious nature. Their boat songs con- 
sist of a solo and chorus. The leader, who was in my boat, 
began yelling the solo at the top of his voice and the men 
in the following boats joined as one man in the chorus. 
Although some of the men had very agreeable tenor voices 
their songs are amazingly monotonous. Listening to their 
reiterations hour after hour was often a severe strain on my 
nerves. To deny them the privilege of singing, however, 



would lead to discontent and trouble, for it is almost im- 
possible to find a group of natives who can perform any kind 
of task without the accompaniment of song. If denied the 
privilege they soon become cross and grouchy and want to go 
home. They long for the social life of the villages where 
every one sings for the very joy of living. Needless to say 
the songs which accompany their labors do not inspire quick 
action, for no African would be guilty of doing anything in 
a hurry. The only time they put any pep into their social 
efforts is when they are dancing. In self-defense I tried to 
learn the words and the tunes to their boat songs. But the 
only reward for my efforts was to keep the men amused and 
good-natured; for whenever I tried to join them, they went 
into peals of laughter. 

There were plenty of interruptions and excitement on the 
river journey, however, to break the monotony of listening 
to the minstrels; too much excitement sometimes to be 
pleasant perhaps, for often when we were obliged to pass 
under the limbs of big trees which extended out over the 
water, the chorus of voices would be interrupted by a shout 
from the man in the bow of my boat, yelling wildly, 
"mamba, mamba* (snake, snake) . Every one would paddle 
frantically to avoid the lizards and snakes that dropped off 
the limbs into the water on all sides of us. These repulsive 
reptiles climb up the trunks of the trees and, crawling out on 
the gnarled, lichen-covered branches which overhang the 
water, wait for the birds and monkeys. The sun shining 
through the leaves casts mottled patterns over their bodies 
and helps to disguise them from their prey. They varied in 
species and also in size and color markings. There was one 



snake as thin as a whip and as beautiful as a piece of jade. 
There were red ones, brown ones, and deadly black ones. 
One of the lizards which I shot from the boat measured over 
forty-nine inches in length, and some of those that dropped 
into our boats were, I believe, longer. 

One water python which I killed measured sixteen and a 
half feet. When I exclaimed over its great size the men 
assured me that it was but a child. Whereupon I sent up a 
prayer that I might not meet any of the adult members of 
the family. They were, however, much smaller than the 
snakes I came across a few months later while traveling 
across the Congo. The shady retreats on the limbs of trees 
overhanging the water are the favorite hunting-blinds of the 
water pythons. They lie coiled on the limb until some un- 
fortunate animal comes to the river to quench its thirst; then 
like a flash they drop down, their weight staggering the 
animal, and before it can regain its equilibrium on the slip- 
pery bank the snake whips its coils around its body like 
lightning and crushes every bone in the poor thing's body 
so he can swallow it. Whether the snakes carry their vic- 
tims out on the bank or swallow them while in the water I 
do not know. But one day as we were coming along quietly 
we heard a great commotion in the bush near the bank. 
The trees were full of baboons and monkeys which were 
screaming and scolding at something that was thrashing 
about in the bush below them. 

My first thought was that a leopard had taken a baboon 
and the others were excited over it. Accompanied by two 
of the men I left the boat and stalked carefully forward, 
guided by the noise in the bushes. To our amazement we 



discovered that our leopard was a huge snake which was 
being attacked by a swarm of hornets while he was swallow- 
ing a baboon. They covered his head and the wounds on 
his body which the baboon had evidently inflicted. In his 
rage the snake was lashing about in all directions with his 
tail. The jungle on all sides bore traces of the terrible on- 
slaught and the tremendous power of this dangerous crea- 
ture when aroused to anger. We retreated silently and 
hastily, fearful of drawing the attention of the hornets upon 
ourselves, for some of my men were still ill and suffering 
from our last exciting encounter with a swarm of bees. My 
boatmen feared the lizards quite as much as they did the 
snakes, for some of them were of immense size. They can 
move with lightning-like rapidity and their powerful jaws 
inflict a very dangerous wound. Once when we were under 
a tree and they began dropping like some strange fruit 
around us, a huge one landed on the back of the man just 
in front of me, knocking the pole from his hand and causing 
him to fall with considerable force to the bottom of the 
canoe. With due regard for my own safety 1 drew my feet 
up on my chair and, as the creature ran under me, I tried to 
spear it. But I only succeeded in hastening its exit by the 
way of some baggage over the side of the boat. We were 
not always so fortunate, however, for once in a mad scramble 
to get away from one which had taken possession of a boat 
the men went overboard, upsetting the canoe and losing 
some of my most valued possessions in a deep hole where 
we could not retrieve them. My loss included the skin of a 
precious kudu for which I had worked desperately hard, hunt- 
ing in the thorn scrub of the hot desert, to obtain for the 


museum collection, and also an ant bear and a beautiful 
leopard skin. Usually the men were very quick to see these 
reptiles and maneuver the boats to avoid them. But when 
the snakes lay coiled under the foliage or hidden in one of 
the tangled masses of vines and foliage which hang down 
from the trees and spread over the water like a great curtain, 
it was impossible to detect them without beating them out 
with long poles. Sometimes the ugly things would raise 
their heads above the flowering vines, and thrusting out 
their tongues like lightning, uncoil and drop with a sicken- 
ing splash into the water beside us. These are unpleasant 
experiences which travelers in a tropical country sometimes 
encounter, but they are soon forgotten in the joy of happier 
incidents which will glisten like a diamond in one's memory 
long after the snakes are forgotten. 

My journey up the Tana River held something of the 
great ovations which civilized people accord their popular 
heroes and heroines. Whenever we came to a settlement, 
natives lined the banks and gave us a royal welcome. The 
news that we were coming was usually carried to the natives 
by the voices of my canoemen. When approaching a vil- 
lage they told in song all they knew about me and some 
things they did not know, for the African natives are past 
masters in the art of exaggeration; they are anything but 
the simple children so many travelers seem to think. 

My men knew quite well that the more importance they 
attached to me and my expedition, the greater became the 
reflected glory to themselves. They had great imaginations, 
and sometimes, while listening to them talking to the vil- 
lagers, I would learn with amazement of, and gasp over, 



the great number of lions and elephants that had fallen to 
my unerring aim. They told stories of my great wealth and 
my generosity until I began to think they must have heard 
of King Solomon and thought I was one of his heirs. When 
we came in sight of a village, crowds of curious people lined 
the banks, their black bodies silhouetted against the blue 
sky often forming a very picturesque sky line. 

The Wafocomo natives living on the Tana River are a 
very happy tribe; civilization has, happily, touched them but 
lightly. The Tana Valley where they live is very hot and 
unhealthful and is only visited by one lone missionary and a 
few government officials. When we came to a village that 
looked interesting, we usually stopped to visit and gossip 
with the inhabitants. While I made friends with the junior 
members of the tribe through the medium of pennies and 
civilized toys, such as mouth organs, rubber dolls, and toy 
balloons, my canoemen feasted and chaffed the village 
belles with the habit of men the world over. Sometimes 
both men and women would hold an impromptu dance, not 
for my especial benefit, but for their own pleasure and amuse- 
ment, paying no more attention to me than if I did not exist. 

The women who came in from the fields to greet us 
parked their babies, baskets, and garden implements beside 
the huts or under a tree, and rushed off to the palm trees 
for their personal adornments. They gathered the young 
unspread fronds and, stripping off the tough outer covering, 
made bands for their heads, legs, and arms of the soft shin- 
ing yellow centers, and with their sure instinct for artistic 
effect when using what nature has so generously provided, 
they left long streamers of the soft yellow strips to float 



gracefully on the air when they danced. They robbed the 
flowering vines of their flaming red and yellow blossoms 
and fastened them to their woolly hair, and some placed 
the petals coquettishly on their velvety brown cheeks. The 
only inharmonious note to mar this lovely barbaric scene 
was the ugly safety pins, of all sizes, which traders have 
introduced and which the women wore pinned to their hair. 

Musicians appeared with reed flutes and drums as quickly 
as if some genie had waved a magic wand, and there on the 
palaver ground between the huts and far from the haunts 
of white men, I watched those happy natives dance, as can 
only those whose bodies have never known the influence of 
tight clothing. 

Forming themselves into two rows, as in an old-fashioned 
minuet, they advanced and receded with swaying, sinuous 
movements of their bodies, singing and keeping time by 
clapping their hands and stamping their feet. The deep 
voices of the men blending with the high-pitched tones of 
the women echoed from bank to bank as their naked feet 
shuffled and pounded the hard ground. 

Occasionally a woman, possessed of a spirit of mischief 
and that delicious sense of humor with which all African 
natives are blessed, would come over and invite me to join 
them and offer to teach me the movements of the dance. 
Standing before me she would bend and sway and swing 
her supple body to the fascinating rhythm of the drums, the 
others urging her on and applauding my efforts to follow 
her with laughter, shouts, and clapping of hands that could 
be heard for miles. 

"When I gave the order to continue our journey, the 



women and girls would often run along the bank singing 
and joking with my men as long as we were in sight. Gen- 
erally we made an effort to find a place to camp before mid- 
day, for after that it was too sickeningly hot on the river to 
be safe. 

About eleven o'clock on the day we left the baboon camp 
we were looking for a nice place to pitch my tent, when 
suddenly, while rounding a bend in the river, our attention 
was attracted by a troop of baboons who were in some trees 
and greatly excited over something which they saw in the 
water. They were barking and screaming like hysterical 
children. Instantly I gave the signal for the men to stop the 
boats so I could watch them. I picked up my gun thinking 
a crocodile might have caught one of them and if he came 
out on the bank to eat it, I would be ready to take a shot at 
him. Presently the baboons began to quiet down, but their 
attention was still focused on the water. Then suddenly 
out in midstream there appeared two black knobs and the 
pointed snouts of two ugly crocodiles slowly drifting down 

As they passed us they sank below the surface. Then 
some of the baboons began to come down from the tree and 
descend the bank toward the water, but two or three of the 
older ones remained in the tree on guard. The others ap- 
proached the water cautiously, took a sip, and with a scream 
of terror jumped back. There they stood on the sand bar 
with manes bristling, gazing at the water and uttering hys- 
terical shrieks. The big fellows in the tree gave forth sev- 
eral energetic, deep piggie grunts, as if assuring them that 
the crocodiles were gone. They did this several times before 


\v :/ :>ii 



the troop found sufficient courage to approach the water 

Finally after they finished drinking, the guards came down, 
one after the other, and also drank. It was interesting to 
note that while they gave encouragement to the others by 
their bold grunting noise, when it came their turn to drink, 
they approached the water with as much fear and caution 
in their movements as was evidenced by any of the others, 
proving beyond a doubt that mere man has no monopoly on 
the old game of bluff. After drinking, the troop went up 
stream traveling along the river bank. We followed, keep- 
ing close to the opposite bank where I was able to observe 
their movements. 

On this occasion their vicious, bullying disposition was 
very much in evidence and often amusing. As they went 
along, climbing over rocks and logs and running into the 
low trees after insects and fruits, they quarreled, chased one 
another, and fought as noisily as a lot of hoodlums. It 
seemed to me that they did everything they could think of 
to be mean. They tried to push one another into the river 
where the crocodiles were; they bit and slapped and squealed 
and pulled one another's fur. Two of them got into such a 
row over a bulb which they had dug up that one of the old 
males had to interfere. With a formidable roar he rushed 
at the two who were screaming and mauling each other 
like wildcats, and gave them both a good thrashing. 

This wise bit of childish discipline was so very human 
that we were convulsed with laughter* The animals moved 
so quickly that I could not tell whether he bit them or not; 
by the way they screamed it sounded as if he were killing 



them. But the amusing part of the comedy was that after 
thrashing them, he took the bulb the bone of contention 
and sitting down, with one arm resting on his knee, pro- 
ceeded to devour it himself. 

The chastised pair, still gasping hysterically over their 
punishment, watched him from a near-by tree. Yet these 
animals who fight so viciously among themselves often per- 
form amazing de^ds of heroism. They will actually die to 
save one of their kind from an enemy, as I learned the fol- 
lowing day, when I witnessed a terrible tragedy. 

The baboons finally led us to a delightful camping place, 
a little shamba cultivated patch which paralleled the river 
on their side of the stream. When we were crossing over, 
and while we disembarked, they sat in the trees and watched 
like inquisitive neighbors in a country town, craning their 
necks and moving their positions whenever it was necessary 
to follow our movements. The owner of the shamba, a fine, 
handsome fellow, with two wives, his old mother, and six 
bonny children, occupied two little huts on the edge of the 
forest facing the clearing. 

Innumerable, cunning little gray-green monkeys ran about 
in the trees and peered down at us with great curiosity. It 
was quite evident that the natives did not molest them, for 
when there was no one near the huts they came down from 
the trees and played on the thatched roofs, 

The owner greeted us pleasantly, and while the men 
pitched my tent in a lovely spot close to the river under the 
wide-spreading branches of a mango tree which was loaded 
with the luscious yellow fruit, he brought firewood and 
helped the cook who was busy preparing my luncheon* The 



women and children, who were working at the extreme end 
o the shamba when we arrived, dropped their hoes and 
rushed across the field surging with curiosity over their 
strange guest. As they ran they adjusted the pretty pat- 
terned cloths which covered their bodies and hung from 
their breasts to their knees. 

The absence of armed soldiers made it very obvious to 
them that they had an unusual guest, for the only white 
person who ever visited them was the government official 
who came to collect the tax. When told that I was a woman 
traveling alone they showed their astonishment by rais- 
ing their eyebrows and clapping their hands over their 

The women had hardly reached us before a troop of 
silver-gray baboons rushed out of the forest and entered the 
bean patch. They distributed themselves between the neatly 
hoed hills of beans like laborers working on a truck farm. 
Sitting down they began to tear off the tender green pods and 
stuff their cheek pouches. The owner of the shamba 
begged me to go out and shoot them, saying that the 
baboons and monkeys ate or destroyed more than half of 
the food which they planted each season. I knew what he 
said was quite true, for I had seen the results of their depre- 
dations in other shatnbas. I also knew that there was no 
need for the baboons to come into the shambas, for the 
land teemed with their natural foods, such as roots, the 
onion-like bulbs of flowering plants, wild figs, cherries, and 
tart plums, and with uncanny intelligence these remarkable 
animals can readily distinguish the difference between the 
edible and the poisonous kinds. In this their knowledge is 



greater than that of human beings. Their diet is not con- 
fined to fruits and vegetables either, for they also eat vari- 
ous kinds of insects like locusts, spiders, centipedes, and 
scorpions, as well as crabs, beetles, and various others. An 
insect like the scorpion, which has a dreadful sting at the 
end of his long tail, is robbed of his power to harm by a 
quick movement of the baboon's thumb and forefinger before 
being consumed. 

These rowdies have glorious times robbing bees' nests, 
and once I came across a troop out on the desert, having a 
banquet on ostrich eggs. They were squatting around the 
nest and looked for all the world like a lot of natives at a 
feast. Each one leaned over and lapped up the fluid as it 
flowed from the broken eggs, and as they ate they were very 
garrulous and kept up a constant grunting noise, first one 
and then another joining in the conversation. Now and then 
they uttered a peculiar sound which even the black boys 
with me said was laughter. I frankly say that I am not 
positive that it was laughter, but it was a merry sound and 
quite unlike their conversational tones. While I sympa- 
thized with the natives who toiled so hard in the hot sun 
hoeing, digging, and planting their gardens, I could not 
kill the baboons as they asked. Knowing how amazingly 
human these animals are and feeling about them as I do, it 
would have been cold-blooded murder and I would have 
been haunted by the crime for the rest of my life. Even 
though I had no other knowledge of them than the lovers 
on the rock pile, the memory of those two would have 
stayed my hand. 

While the men pitched my tent I proceeded to photograph 


the baboons. They watched me closely as I approached, but 
never left off feeding until I stopped to set up my tripod. 
Instantly the old male hustled the females and youngsters 
to the edge of the forest, then he returned and continued his 
repast. I went forward again and setting up the tripod 
began to focus my camera upon 'him. With great delibera- 
tion he got up on his long legs and walked slowly away. 
Every few steps he stopped, passed his hands over a hill 
of beans, yawned, and picked a few pods slowly as if trying 
to show his utter contempt for me. Once or twice his beau- 
tiful mane rose on his shoulders as he jumped around 
quickly and barked sharply, no doubt trying to intimidate 
me. Finally without haste he walked over and sat on a log 
with several other big fellows who were craning their necks 
to see what I was doing. 

Nothing happened, so the whole family came trooping 
out and, perched on logs and boulders, watched me. Never 
have I seen such huge animals. Their legs were unusually 
long and rangy and their bodies, which were covered with 
a beautiful silver-gray fur, seemed very heavy. When the 
old male stood up he was as tall as a man and his silvery 
mane hung about his shoulders like a graceful gray cape. 
I made several exposures which I knew would be failures, 
for it was midday and heat waves were dancing. Then I 
decided to have a porter guard the bean patch so they 
would be very hungry and return in the morning when the 
light would be more favorable. When I returned to my 
tent without using my gun, the owner of the shamba was 
keenly disappointed, and with characteristic native eloquence 
he launched forth on a tirade against baboons. If I would 



only lend him the gun he would settle the baboon question 
and save his starving family. 

To illustrate his point the orator held out his hands be- 
fore his stomach to indicate how fat the baboons got on his 
food, and depressing his diaphragm he hobbled about to 
show how his family were growing thinner and weaker 
daily. He was a good actor but it didn't change my mind 
one bit, for I really saw no signs of starvation among 

I was up with the birds in the morning, and as soon as 
it was light enough for my purpose I started for the other 
end of the garden on my photographic mission. I was ac- 
companied by one boy who carried the tripod and my gun. 
I had no intention of using the gun unless it was necessary, 
but I have had too much experience with wild monkeys in 
Africa to have any illusions about their angelic dispositions 
or their docile qualities. A sudden brain storm or a violent 
fit of temper is one of the chief characteristics of the whole 
monkey family, and all the theorizing in the world cannot 
change that fact. Pushing our way through the high dew- 
wet grass on the forest side of the shamba, so the baboons 
would not see us, we finally came to a point where we could 
see them across the cultivated patch, sitting on a log above 
the river. The youngsters were playing while four mothers, 
all with babies at their breasts, were talking over the gossip 
of the day, or perhaps wishing that the sun would hurry and 
dry the grass so they could descend upon the bean patch 
and have their breakfast. The old male and the remainder 
of the troop were still in the forest close by. 

I began to set up my tripod with the intention of creeping 



clo^r when the camera was in position, when suddenly my 
boy touched my arm and pointed to an object which was 
moving swiftly across the cultivated patch leading up to the 
log. It was a beautiful half -grown leopard and he was 
stalking the baboons on the log. He was running low to 
the ground and in the early morning light the red earth 
seemed to blend with his fur and be a protection. Almost 
at the same instant that we saw the leopard the male in. 
the forest gave a mighty roar of warning for the benefit o 
the animals on the log. As the formidable sound rang out 
on the early morning air all became confusion. The little 
ones screamed and the older ones barked; the bushes crashed 
as if a herd of buffalo were charging. Quicker than thought 
the largest of the mother baboons snatched her baby from 
her breast and, handing it to her neighbor, jumped forward 
to meet the attack of the leopard while the rest of the ani- 
mals, including the one that had taken her baby, made off 
into the forest. For a flash the heroic mother stood with 
fangs bared facing her enemy; then the leopard leaped 
upon her, raking the fur and flesh from shoulder to hand 
with his claws and laying it bare to the bone. The plucky 
mother dug in with her fangs and at the same moment a 
gray mass of fur accompanied by a gurgling roar catapulted 
from the forest; the big male followed by others joined the 
battle. After that I could see nothing but a revolving mass 
of fur in which I could distinguish the black and white spots 
of the leopard and out of which there rose on the air the 
most horrible screaming, snarling, and roaring I have ever 
heard. When the fight was over it did not last a minute 
the leopard was dead and there was not enough left of him to 



show what he looked like, so devastating had been the work 
o the saw-edged fangs and the powerful hands and arms 
of the baboons. Then two badly wounded baboons groan- 
ing like human beings crept off to the shelter of the forest, 
the male holding his hand over a great hole in his side and 
his beautiful gray coat dyed crimson. 

After the battle with the leopard the entire baboon family 
left the scene of the shocking tragedy and vanished into 
the forest. It seemed to me that as they went through the 
bush all I could hear were the moans and groans of the 
heroic mother and the brave animal who had so gallantly 
rushed to her defense. The struggle was a terrible thing to 
witness and the vindictive fury of the old male who, con- 
vulsed with rage and pain from his wounds, literally tore 
his enemy limb from limb after the struggle was over, filled 
me with horror. But ever since that time the baboon mother 
has had a leading place in my gallery of heroines. She 
could easily have made her escape with her baby, for she 
was much larger and stronger than her companions, but she 
voluntarily gave up her baby and faced the dreaded enemy 
while the others ran. 

No human being could do more than offer his own life 
that others might live and carry on. I regret to say there 
are people who take a keen delight in targeting their guns 
on these marvelous creatures. There is no law to protect 
them and there is no limit to the number of animals unfeel- 
ing and heartless people may kill. 

In the afternoon when the baboon family did not return 
to the bean patch, I rigged up a ridiculous scarecrow and 
set it up at the end of the garden, hoping it might help to 



keep the baboons out o the shamba for a time at least. If 
the sight of the awful looking object with its painted rag 
face and waving grass arms had the same effect on the 
baboons that it had on the native babies, who ran screaming 
with terror into the huts, it must have been a huge success. 
I never learned, however, for the following morning at day- 
break we proceeded on our journey, and three weeks later 
we arrived at San Kuri where my unforgettable canoe journey 
of ten weeks came to an end. 

Owing to dangerous rapids and whirlpools the traveler 
who wishes to continue the journey from this point to the 
upper Tana must import porters from other parts of the 
colony and travel on foot over a very trying and difficult 
country, for there are no natives on the lower Tana who 
will go on safari and carry loads on their heads. As I had 
made three previous expeditions to the upper Tana before it 
became the mecca for tourist sportsmen who hunt in auto- 
mobiles, I planned a more interesting journey across the arid 
desert country which lies between the lower Tana and 

This part of the Kenya Colony is a closed territory and 
still under military rule. The traveler who wishes to enter 
must first obtain special permission, if he can, from the 
government. Being a woman and traveling alone, without 
white companions, I deeply appreciated the compliment paid 
me by Mr. Fazan, the District Commissioner at Mombasa, 
and Mr. Fuller-Maitland, the Commissioner of Lamu, in 
granting my desire to make this journey and permitting me 
to proceed in my own way without escort. The compliment 



can better be appreciated when I say that very few white 
men have crossed this treacherous strip of thorn-scrub desert, 
owing to the hostile attitude of the nomadic Somali who 
inhabit it. 

San Kurl is a British military post on the edge of this 
desert, where a small detachment of native soldiers, com- 
manded by a white officer, is stationed to hold in check the 
Somalis, a hostile and very troublesome tribe of cattle- 
owning nomads who roam the desert in search of food for 
their camels and flocks. They are an arrogant, lawless lot 
and often raid the shambas of the Wafocomo living along 
the river, sometimes killing the natives who show resistance 
or dragging them off to be their slaves. They plunder gov- 
ernment caravans and occasionally kill a white official, as 
they did while I was there. 

I was a guest at the San Kuri post for ten days, and were 
it not for the scourge of fleas which infested the place and 
tortured both men and beasts, I would have liked to remain 
for a longer period to study the monkeys living in the for- 
ests close by. How much we suffered from the fleas can be 
imagined when I say that a daily sponge bath of petrol was 
necessary and even that vile-smelling liquid could not guaran- 
tee immunity or allay the frightful irritation caused by their 
poisonous bites. The motley collection of dogs attached to 
the station burrowed in the ground and kept themselves 
covered with earth to discourage the pests. "Digging in" 
seemed to be the only way the poor animals could find re- 
lief, and the entire compound looked like a miniature repro- 
duction of a battlefield covered with shell holes. 

When we arrived at San Kuri with our fleet of dugout 


canoes we were met at the landing by an odd assortment of 
people and animals, for the news that I was coming was as 
usual announced long before our arrival by the song of 
my canoemen. Therefore the whole population turned out 
to greet us. There were Somali, Wagalla, Koro Koro, 
Swahili, Arabs, and East Indians; there were many dogs of 
doubtful breeds and varying colors; there were cats, mon- 
keys, goats; even the two little donkeys followed the crowd 
and, cocking their ears forward, brayed a welcome. 

I was greeted pleasantly by a low-voiced East Indian 
clerk, who spoke excellent English. He said that Captain 
Cook, the white officer in charge of the post, was away in 
the desert on official business, and that he would be gone 
for several weeks, but with the usual characteristic hos- 
pitality one always finds in British territory he said that 
Captain Cook's bungalow and in fact everybody and every- 
thing at the post were at my service. I was escorted by the 
excited community to the top of a hill where the bungalow 
stood. The native women were perhaps the most interested 
in me. They hung over each other's shoulders, peeped 
around woolly heads, and laughed and giggled at their own 
remarks at my expense. Cunning little black babies toddled 
along with the crowd and, squealing and laughing, stum- 
bled and fell and cried; but, picking themselves up again, 
they followed along after the mob. I knew instinctively I 
was going to love this place and enjoy my stay here, although 
when we arrived at the bungalow I had every reason to 
change my mind. 

As I stepped forward to take possession of the house my 
right to enter was fiercely disputed by Captain Cook's pet 



baboon. He had rushed ahead of us and intrenched him- 
self there. As 1 drew back, frightened out of my wits, his 
mane bristled and he lifted the block of wood which was 
attached to his collar, and, leaping over the sill, he rushed 
at me with bared fangs and a nasty growl. Fortunately 
the soldiers fell upon him just in time to save me, and 
squealing and protesting with all his voice and strength, he 
was carried away and tied to a big tree in the middle of 
the compound. 

I was not at all happy over the ape's reception, for apes 
have good memories and often take revenge for a fancied 
wrong. The more I thought of it the more uncomfortable 
I became. I began to have visions of him coming into the 
bungalow at night through the air space under the thatch. 
If the reader remembers Kipling's story of the jealous ape, 
he can appreciate my feelings the morning following my 
arrival when I was roused from a sound sleep by something 
which jarred my cot. Of course my first waking thought 
was that the baboon had escaped and had come into the 
house to attack me. I opened my eyes expecting to see him 
standing over me ready to tear me to bits; but imagine my 
surprise at seeing instead two cunning little monkeys no 
bigger than squirrels, running across the top of my mos- 
quito net. 

My early morning visitors were charming, inquisitive little 
rascals, so I lay perfectly still and watched them. They ran 
to the foot of the net and peeped this way and that, trying 
to see what was on the cot beneath them. Evidently unsuc- 
cessful or not quite satisfied, they crept very cautiously 
along the net until they were directly over my head; 


then they flattened their bodies against the net and, put- 
ting their tiny black faces close to the mesh, peered down 
at me. 

After scrutinizing me carefully for a moment, they leaped 
away and disappeared by way of the air space between the 
thatched roof and side wall; presently I heard them scamper- 
ing over the dry grass on the roof. Then they appeared on 
a crossbeam. 

Here they wrestled and tried to push each other off the 
beam. They were so reckless in their play that I held my 
breath for fear one of them would drop; suddenly they 
stopped playing and spreading out their arms and legs like 
flying squirrels, they took a header right into my net. They 
gauged the distance and the center of the net with an ac- 
curacy which could only be rivaled by a trained circus per- 
former, and exactly like a circus performer, they bounced 
up and down on the net once or twice before running to the 
side and leaping away to repeat the amusement. 

At breakfast another member of my absent host's strange 
family made his appearance, a huge tomcat with a beauti- 
ful yellowish brown coat all striped and spotted with vel- 
vety black markings. There could be no doubt about his 
breed and, as these half -wild, half -tame creatures are very 
touchy, I was careful not to offend him. He meowed when 
he entered the door as if he were saying good morning. I 
greeted him pleasantly and he walked slowly around the 
room stopping to sniff and inspect my belongings carefully. 
Evidently he decided that I was eligible for his friendship, 
for he finally jumped to a chair beside me and put one huge 
paw on the table. There he sat giving an occasional meow 


and digging his claws into the cloth while I prepared a 
saucer of porridge for him. 

This was not what the gentleman wanted, however, and 
without more ado he jumped onto the table and began 
prowling and pawing an uncut papaya which was on a plate 
with some mangoes. I gave him half the fruit which he 
ate ravenously, and after finishing his meal he made a second 
tour of inspection and, finally climbing on top of my leather 
suitcase, curled up and promptly went to sleep. There he 
passed his days in slumber, only leaving the place at meal 
time or when I wanted something out of the case. 

About dusk every night he would get up and yawn as if 
tie were frightfully bored and saunter outside. Presently I 
^would see him heading for the bush, where we could hear 
his wild relatives calling him to join their night revels. 

Each morning after the cat left the breakfast table the 
little monkeys would appear. Unafraid they climbed from 
the back of my chair on to my shoulders and tried to inter- 
cept every mouthful of food I ate. Two monkeys are a 
pretty lively proposition especially when they are hanging on 
to one's ears and snatching at one's food with their free 
hands. I wanted my breakfast, but I also wanted the com- 
pany of the little rascals, so I arranged a magnifying mirror 
on the table and while they scolded and fought their own 
reflections, I enjoyed both my breakfast and their antics. 

One morning when they did not appear at breakfast I 
started out to see where they were; just as I reached the 
door there came from the direction of the forest the sound 
of many monkeys barking and screaming and leaping 
through the trees. I ran forward just in time to see my two 


little friends coming over the fence with several wild mon- 
keys in pursuit. The black boys had heard them too and 
came with sticks to chase the wild ones away. I noticed 
that one of the little monkeys did not use his hand and upon 
examination found that he had been bitten by his wild 
brother, and that the fang had passed right through the 
palm. Without flinching or drawing away he let me cleanse 
the wound with permanganate and he also sat and watched 
me while I filled a syringe with ashes and injected it into 
the wound. I know from experience how the ashes hurt 
when they touch the raw flesh, but the only demonstration 
my brave little patient gave that it hurt was to open his 
pink mouth and raise his eyebrows at me, showing plainly 
that he understood that I was only trying to help him. 

One of the greatest joys on my African journeys has been 
my ability to win the confidence of both birds and ani- 
mals, and an experience which I had with an old baboon 
while at San Kuri will serve to illustrate what I mean; it 
is only one of the many rich experiences which I enjoyed 
on my recent journey from coast to coast across Central 

To protect the inhabitants of the post from surprise 
attack by hostile natives, a broad, high wall topped by a 
network of thorn bushes, more deadly than barbed wire, sur- 
rounded the main buildings. The soldiers' quarters, Indian 
bazaars, and parade ground were below the hill and away 
from the official residence. This arrangement left the bun- 
galow, kitchen, and servants' quarters isolated on the hill. 
And there was a pathetic garden, where a few European 
flowers and vegetables drooped and shriveled and struggled 


:or existence under the blistering African sun. The garden 
seemed to be the playground for all kinds of nocturnal 
beasts, and a dozen times each night the pack of dogs would 
leave their excavations and go over the top to meet the 
enemy. They would rush past the bungalow in wild pursuit, 
yelping and barking crazily. Sometimes I would hear the 
rush of padded feet accompanied by a muffled roar, and in 
the morning I would find that our visitor was a lion or a 
leopard. To the amusement of the black boys I would go 
around barricading doors and placing sticks across the open 
windows of the bungalow, for I was more timid at night in 
that house than I was on the open veldt in my canvas tent. 
From the window at the rear of the bungalow I could look 
over the wide wall on to a lane and beyond that into the 
forest which bordered the river. On the edge of the lane 
and close to the fence there was a wide-spreading fig tree, 
its gray branches loaded with clusters of ripening fruit. 

This fruit attracted both birds and monkeys and from day- 
light until sundown it was a lively, interesting place. Each 
morning about eight o'clock we could hear a large troop of 
baboons coming through the forest barking, squealing, and 
fighting as baboons always do. The mothers and children 
would sit under the trees down by the river while the old 
scouts came up and looked around. Finding the coast clear, 
tvhich they always did, they would communicate the fact to 
:he others by a bark, and the hungry hordes would come 
:umbling over one another to be the first to reach the tree. 
They rushed greedily from one cluster of fruit to another, 
:hoosing the choicest fruits for themselves; when their hun- 
jer was appeased they would congregate on the rocks 



and boulders scattered about the lane and bask in the 

No sooner did they leave the tree than a troop of vervet 
monkeys appeared; they would take what fruits the baboons 
had left. There seemed to be a perfect understanding be- 
tween the monkeys and the baboons about who was to have 
breakfast first, for the vervets never came to the fig tree, 
although they often waited close by, until the baboons had 
finished. Captain Cook was very fond of animals and had 
given strict orders to the soldiers at the post that no mon- 
keys were to be molested. Consequently the animals were 
fearless as long as one kept a respectful distance, and they 
did not mind in the least when I went close to the fence to 
watch them. 

One day when I was standing very still watching the 
baboons sitting on the rocks, grooming one another, a beauti- 
ful sunbird lit on my shoulder. It flew away and I held out 
my arms like a sign post; presently three of them were 
wiping their bills on the sleeves of my blouse. Others came 
and sat on my hat and teetered on my hands. I noticed that 
the females had stopped grooming the old male baboon 
and he was sitting up watching me. So when the birds flew 
away, I began to coquet with him, as I had seen them doing 
with one another; I moved my head from side to side; I 
scratched myself under the arm and yawned boldly; when I 
grunted and imitated their bark, he not only answered right 
back but he jumped off the rock and walked toward me. 

Then he sat down and I continued my friendly advances, 
enticing him a little nearer. I stuck out my lips and grunted 
as loud as I could, whereupon he jumped to his feet and 


began leaping up and down in a ridiculous way, grunting 
wildly with each leap. An inquisitive female with a baby 
in her arms jumped off the rock and hurried after him, 
thinking no doubt that the head of the clan had taken leave 
of his senses. But, like the master that he was, he would 
brook no interference; with a fierce roar that sounded very 
much like a lion's, he turned, and shaking his mane angrily, 
made a movement with his hand as if he were picking some- 
thing off the ground to throw at her. She retreated and he 
advanced. I kept my place and grunted and scratched some 

Suddenly, like an enthusiastic audience at a ball game, the 
baboons rose up on every rock and boulder in that great 
arena and, scratching their stomachs and their heads, began 
barking at their leader. Whether they were warning him 
to be cautious or offering him encouragement, I am not pre- 
pared to say. The situation was most amusing, however, and 
it was difficult to repress my laughter, but I had learned by 
experience that monkeys are very quick to sense laughter 
at their expense, and for fear of discouraging him, I 

Finally one excitable old chap jumped off the rock, and 
rushing past the principal actor in this little comedy tried to 
attract my attention to himself. As he opened his big mouth 
and grimaced wildly at me, the leader leaped upon his back 
and for a moment there was a fierce struggle in which the 
well-matched beasts used hands and fangs with wicked 
effect. As they fought they growled and roared exactly like 

No battle between prize fighters for world supremacy and 


a big purse could excite the spectators more than did that 
animal combat. The apes on the boulders and the troop 
of vervets in the fig tree screamed and barked and danced 
about as wildly as excited human fans; there were even two 
or three squabbles among the animals on the rocks, and their 
piercing screams could be heard above the general din. 

My boys who were watching from the curtained window of 
the bungalow were convulsed with laughter, and I put my 
finger on my lips to warn them to keep still. The exciting 
battle was not prolonged for the benefit of the fans, how- 
ever. There was only one round; then the impulsive one 
made a hasty and undignified retreat toward the bush, but 
he was pursued only for a short distance by the leader, who 
suddenly stopped as if he had just thought of something, 
and, turning quickly, rushed back across the lane, where he 
sat down and, grunting gently, lifted first one foot and then 
the other and scratched his toes. Then as if his victory had 
given him courage and made him bold, he leaped to his 
feet and came with a rush across the open space and jumped 
to the edge of the fence not ten feet away from me. This 
maneuver on the part of the baboon was something I had 
not anticipated and I became speechless with the horror of 
having the formidable-looking creature so near me. 

I believe he sensed my sudden fear of him for like a flash 
his expression changed. He bared his long, yellow, wicked- 
looking fangs and drew his lips nervously back and forth 
over them. At the same instant he jumped to his feet and 
as he stood for a second facing me, the long hair on his hulk- 
ing shoulders rose expressing his anger and accentuating his 
formidable appearance. I fully expected the next moment 


to be my last, but fortunately All, my tent boy, who had 
been watching us from the window, rushed out of the house 
carrying my gun and shouting at the top of his voice, (( Piga, 
piga, mem-sahib" (shoot, shoot, mem-sahib). Like a flash 
and without uttering a sound the baboon leaped off the 
fence and, galloping across the lane, disappeared in the bush 
without even a backward glance. And just as if they under- 
stood that some unexpected danger threatened, the whole 
troop slipped hurriedly and quietly off the rocks and fol- 
lowed their leader into the bush. 

The following morning he returned, with the rest of the 
troop, to the fig tree after his breakfast. He lolled on the 
rocks while the devoted members of his harem groomed his 
fur and he grunted and yawned in friendly fashion in answer 
to my bold advances, but he was much too wise to be fooled 
a second time. And it was thus I left them, when the camels 
arrived, and ended one of my most amusing and interesting 



THE question as to which of the five big-game animals 
elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, or rhino is the most dan- 
gerous to hunt is one that is constantly being debated by 
big-game hunters. 

In a group of men who hunted in Africa before the days 
of automobiles and professional white hunters, and who fol- 
lowed their quarry alone and on foot, as sportsmen did, the 
question usually brings forth lively discussions, decided 
opinions, and stories of thrilling personal experiences. 

Many individuals have settled the matter to their own 
satisfaction, but there are so many aspects to the question 
that, in spite of their decisions, it remains controversial and 
no doubt will continue to stimulate the debating propensi- 
ties of the next generation of big-game hunters. After all 
an opinion can only be based on the extent of personal ex- 
periences, and this in turn is tempered by the bravery or fears 
of the individual hunter. 

Although it is a matter of record that more men have been 
killed or mauled by lions than by any other animal, it does 
not mean that the lion is the most dangerous animal to hunt. 
But it does signify that the lion is hunted more than any 
other animal. 

Elephant and buffalo have long been royal game and 



therefore the hunter's experience with them is, of necessity, 
very limited by comparison. 

It is a mistake, and one that is frequently being made by 
all of us, to generalize about wild animals. No one, how- 
ever great his experience, can forecast what a dangerous ani- 
mal will do when wounded or suddenly alarmed. His ac- 
tions, whether to charge his enemy boldly or attempt to 
escape, depend entirely on the disposition and impulse of 
the individual beast. 

If a woman may venture an opinion formed after five 
strenuous years of big-game hunting, two and a half years 
of which were spent following elephants for a scientific pur- 
pose i would say that the hazards of tracking these mam- 
moth creatures through the vast primeval forests of Central 
Africa are infinitely greater than the perils attending the 
hunting of any other kind of so-called big game. 

When dangerous animals, like the ones in question, are 
met with in what is generally termed open country, they are 
fairly easy targets, providing, of course, the hunter is 
familiar with his weapon and the anatomy of the beast he 
is hunting, and if he doesn't get excited and lose his head 
before he can place his shot. Much oh, so much depends 
on the latter. A well-directed effort not only gives the hun- 
ter confidence in his weapon but in his own ability as well. 
It also wins the respect and cooperation of his native fol- 
lowers, which is of far greater importance than some African 
travelers seem to realize, or would have us believe. 

In the forest, where but few white men go to hunt, the 
odds are all in favor of the elephant. His range is a dim, 
vast wilderness of distorted vegetation and mighty trees 




whose interlacing leafy tops exclude the sunlight and give 
the elephant protection. In the semi-darkened forest the 
eerie silence and mighty grandeur of the vine-draped trees 
are so appalling as almost to terrify the human senses and 
rob the invader of his courage. 

Man is out of his element here, while the elephant is at 
home. By the sheer force of his great strength and huge 
bulk he plows his way through the dense mass of tangled 
vegetation and goes in any direction his fancy leads him, 
while the hunter can only follow on the rough trails which 
the elephant leaves behind him. 

When there are a number of elephants in a herd the hunt- 
ing is extremely dangerous. They often spread over a wide 
area when loafing along, and their trails cross and recross 
so often that the hunter may blunder into their midst before 
he realizes it. It is when they are feeding, however, that 
they are easily located. In a bamboo forest, for instance, 
the snapping of the hollow tubes rings out like the report of 
quickly repeated pistol shots and can be heard for a great 
distance. Sometimes the hunter can approach to within a 
few feet of them, providing the wind is in the right direc- 
tion, before his presence is detected. 

Single elephants move about with much more caution. 
Their location, however, is often discovered by the loud 
rumbling noise made by their stomach when digesting their 
food. When alarmed their digestive organs seem to stop 
functioning, and it is then that the hunter freezes in his 
tracks, and, with a pounding heart, anxiously waits for the 
signal that comes from Nature's messenger to tell him that 
the elephant has resumed his feeding. 



In the twilight shades of the dense forest the round, 
straight legs and wrinkled hide of an elephant merge so 
effectively with his surroundings that he is often invisible 
until he moves. There are times, all too frequent for the 
steadiness of one's nerves, when what looks like a mass of 
foliage or the trunk of a tree is galvanized into action. And 
it is then that only perfect coordination of mind, hand, and 
eye can save the hunter from the vengeance of the mighty 
creature whose sanctuary he has violated. 

The elephant depends almost wholly on his sense of smell 
and hearing to locate an enemy. His great ears are like the 
mechanism of some delicate instrument tuned to catch each 
jungle sound; a rustling in the bushes or the snapping of a 
twig engages his attention at once. With a noiseless rush 
those big detectors swing forward and a powerful trunk 
rises to test the air. As the flexible upturned member waves 
gently to and fro the finger-like arrangement at the tip of 
his nostrils opens and closes like a valve to receive the tell- 
tale message that is carried to him on the ever-shifting 
currents of air. 

As the hunter approaches along the narrow trail, as 
silently as his clumsy civilized clothing permits, he will have 
need for every ounce of strength, caution, and courage that 
is in him, for he never knows what moment the matted wall 
of vegetation which curtails his vision may part and a 
powerful black trunk fell him to the ground. 

It may happen, as it often has, that before he can move or 
even cry out a great pedestal-like foot may descend upon his 
person and stamp him into an unrecognizable mass of mud 
and humanity. The maddened monster may even sit on him 



or tear him limb from limb. Or, in his vindictive fury, the 
elephant may pick him up with his trunk and, after his body 
has been pounded to a pulp on the tip of a yellow tusk, toss 
him aside as he does the broken, bark-stripped branch of a 

In forest hunting these are hazards no one can avoid, for 
there is no way of knowing what the protective screen of 
abnormal vegetation hides, or at what moment the hunter 
or one of his followers may be the victim of a tragedy. 

Some of the African natives are fearless hunters and 
trackers. Most of them wear fetishes which they firmly 
believe will protect them from harm. Stripped of all primi- 
tive adornment save their magic charms, they glide through 
the forest with enviable sang-froid, without so much as snap- 
ping a twig under their feet. Naturally these confident, 
unhampered primitives have many advantages over the 
white man who employs them as trackers, for he is handi- 
capped not only by his clumsy clothing, but by an intelligent 
fear of the formidable beast he is after. 

It is a curious fact, and one that can easily be verified, 
that the elephants living on the slopes of Mt. Kenya rarely 
molest the native women who enter the forest after firewood, 
while they do not hesitate to attack the men who enter the 
same region for the same purpose. I have often accompa- 
nied Kikuyu women on their wood-gathering missions and 
heard the elephants Smashing down trees and gurgling con- 
tentedly as they tore off the branches and fed, utterly un- 
mindful of the close proximity of the women, who laughed 
and chatted in high-pitched voices as they hacked at the 
wood with their crude tools. 



On one memorable occasion, when I was with a merry 
group of women who were making wine at the edge of the 
forest, one of our porters had what seemed to him a terrify- 
ing experience with an elephant. The boy had entered the 
bush to gather wood for our camp fire and finding a tree 
that was half dead from its long years of contact with the 
rough hides of elephants, he began to hack away with his 
panga. The first blows were still echoing through the for- 
est when an elephant trumpeted. The next instant the 
terrified boy came dashing down the trail, yelling like a 
madman. Without stopping to tell us what had happened, 
or heeding the bantering jeers of the women, he sped across 
the cultivated fields to camp. When I stole cautiously down 
the trail a few moments later to learn what had become of 
the elephant I saw the big beast contentedly massaging his 
mud-covered body against an old worn tree, which I learned 
later was the one the porter had started to cut down. 

Retreating silently to the edge of the bush, without inter- 
rupting the animal's beauty treatment, I was just in time to 
behold Mr, Akeley and his gun boys, armed with elephant 
guns, running across the field toward us. 

Like many people who, perhaps without intention, mag- 
nify what happened when frightened by wild animals, the 
porter gave such an exaggerated description of his narrow 
escape, the size of the elephant, and the great length of his 
tusks that Mr. Akeley hurried over, eager to add this mag- 
nificent specimen to our collection. 

As there was no one with the boy, we were obliged to 
take his word for it that the elephant had charged him. I 
have always had a suspicion, however, that he was merely 



terrified by the sudden trumpeting and took to his heels 
without even taking a backward glance to see i the animal 
was really coming. 

The elephant was certainly not in a bad humor when I 
saw him, for, as he rubbed his bulging side forward and 
back against the tree, he waved his snaky trunk about and 
grunted and sighed approvingly, just as ladies of propor- 
tions do when roughly massaged by a Turkish bath 

Some authorities on animal psychology would, no doubt, 
interpret the elephant's actions to sentiment regarding his 
ancestral "rubbing post'* and the trumpet which frightened 
the boy as merely a warning for him to "lay off." 

Although the elephant looks clumsy, he can travel at re- 
markable speed when angry or alarmed. Even a whole herd 
can make their escape through the dense forest so silently 
that the hunter cannot tell which way they have gone until 
he examines their trails. 

When charging, the great beast approaches with appalling 
swiftness and, according to my own experience, spreads out 
his massive ears and with a shrill, trumpet-like scream swings 
his trunk from right to left, slashing off the tops of the 
bushes as if it were a scythe. 

On two occasions, however, when elephants charged us, 
they approached at a tremendous rate, with hanging trunks 
and without making a sound. When met with a volley from 
our guns they suddenly stopped and throwing up their 
heads began to scream. It was only for an instant, however, 
for, as if with a fixed determination to annihilate us, they 
drew their widely flapping ears back and up tight against 



their heads and with trunks pointing straight in our direction 
renewed the charge. 

I know of no experience quite so terrifying as to meet the 
charge of an angry elephant. To run is almost sure to be 
fatal, for the elephant, used as he is to stationary objects 
like trees, quickly sees anything in motion. If the hunter 
cannot stop his charge with a shot he may, if good fortune 
does not desert him, jump aside at the last moment, letting 
the momentum carry the colossal animal past him. It has 
been done with success, but more often it has happened 
that the elephant turns swiftly, charges again, and catches 
the hunter before he has time to escape. 

As in any other kind of big-game hunting, luck plays a 
very conspicuous part when following elephants. It is in 
the nature of man to become careless after having had a fair 
amount of success hunting dangerous animals. He seems 
to take for granted that he is immune from accidents. But 
the day will come, especially if he persists in following the 
forest elephant, when he will find that the tables have 
turned and the very animal he is hunting is hunting him 
with a strategy equal to if not greater than his own. 

Seldom is man fair to the wild animals that attack or out- 
wit him. The beasts' actions are usually interpreted as 
vicious and therefore all his kind are given a bad reputation. 
The old proverb, "All is fair in war," obviously was not 
coined to excuse the wild beasts that are forced to defend 
themselves and their young against the attacks and the 
fiendish inventions of mankind. 

In recent years the British Government have done more to 
protect the elephant from extermination than any other 



foreign government in Africa. But, in defiance of their 
restrictions, preserves, and vigilance, traders and poachers 
were very active when my husband and I arrived in British 
East Africa in 1905. 

In the outlying districts, where we went to hunt for speci- 
mens for the institution we represented, we often came across 
caravans loaded with loot, making their way toward the 
border of the Belgian Congo and German East Africa, where 
the game laws were not so strict and the penalty for taking 
ivory across the border to the coast was merely the price 
of a few pairs of tusks. 

It was on this expedition that we became interested in 
elephants. In an effort to secure one or two specimens for 
the Field Museum of Chicago we went to the Aberdare 
Mountains, where for five weeks we hunted with only fair 
success in the lovely bamboo forests. Then one day we re- 
ceived special permission from the Governor, Sir James 
Saddler, to enter the closed Tana Valley district and continue 
our hunt in the primeval forests on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. 
Here, on the south side of this ice-capped mountain, in the 
most glorious forests in all Africa, we began a task that 
proved so fascinating that it finally changed the whole plan 
of our lives. 

Our youth and our enthusiasm were our greatest assets 
on this dangerous mission. We soon discovered that the 
elephants living on Mt. Kenya were great travelers and to 
keep up with them our strenuous day began when the "Big 
Bens" of the forest, the colobus monkeys, voiced their greet- 
ings to the dawn and ended when these citizens of the tree- 
tops sounded their curfew for all their kind to go to bed. 



When the monkeys warned us that darkness was approach- 
ing in that wilderness of trees, we bivouacked beside the 
trail wherever we happened to be. When our followers 
were too tired to clear a place in the bush for our tents we 
slept, as they did, on the hard ground beside the blazing 
camp fire. 

It needed the agility and stamina of youth to climb the 
steep, slippery sides of mighty ridges over the muddy, zig- 
zagging trails left by the monster four-footed roadmakers. 
And enthusiasm to sit down on the wet ground, as they did, 
and toboggan down the other side, landing, as they also did, 
against the big buffer of rocks, uprooted trees, and debris 
which their great weight had pushed down before them. 

Sometimes the trail led us into deep, dark, mist-filled can- 
yons where the thunder of falling water awed and terrified 
our senses. And again, like tourists' guides, the restless, roving 
animals led us out of the forest on to grassy meadows that 
were gay with sunshine, birds, and blossoming flowers. 

It required something more than enthusiasm, however, to 
plunge at dawn into the icy water of rushing mountain tor- 
rents and walk all day in dripping garments. And some- 
thing more than mere love of adventure to follow the trail 
across swamps reeking with the unpleasant odors of ancient 
vegetation, and to risk sinking up to our necks in the deep 
holes left in the mud by the post-like legs of the elephants. 

On one occasion when we followed a trail to the top of a 
high, isolated ridge, approachable only from one side, we 
found, to our great delight, a place beneath a big tree where 
a mother elephant had come to give birth to her baby. It 
was very evident from the condition of the vegetation in the 




vicinity that the mother had remained in this secluded place 
for several weeks before descending to initiate her offspring 
into the roving life of an elephant. This, however, was the 
only place of the kind we found, although we spent days 
climbing ridges that looked promising in the hope of locat- 
ing others. Our only reward would be a sublime view over 
the treetops which usually made us long for the wings of an 
eagle to carry us from one high ridge to another, for feet 
and body muscles of human beings get very weary when on 
the trail of elephants. 

In the three months that we remained in that jungle world 
no day passed that some incident or evidence of the ele- 
phant's reasoning powers did not present itself. Each night 
as we lay down to sleep questions would arise to tantalize 
our minds and rob us of our much needed rest. 

How, we asked each other, did the clever animals know 
how to avoid the vines, stretched across the trails, that con- 
trolled the weighted, poisoned spears, hanging like black 
icicles from the limbs of trees to kill them? What sense 
prompted them to turn aside at the right moment from the 
cleverly masked pits dug in their paths by the Andorobo 
hunters? Where were their babies born and how did the 
toddling youngsters manage to negotiate the rushing moun- 
tain torrents and fallen trees that obstructed their paths at 
every turn? Did they ever leave the security of the jungle 
world or visit the eternal snows that crowned their mountain 
home so near the equator? 

Some of our questions were answered by personal en- 
counters and illuminating glimpses of the animals through 
the foliage, but what we saw only made us eager to see and 


learn more. So intrigued did we become that we discussed 
elephants and their ways with every elephant hunter we met. 
When we arrived in London, on our way home to America, 
we searched the shops for books on the subject. 

At last it gradually dawned upon us that, in spite of the 
fact that ever since prehistoric days, when the hairy cave 
man fashioned his weapons from stone down to the day of 
modern firearms, the African elephant has been hunted by 
the various races of mankind, yet our knowledge of his 
normal habits when at home in the jungle is very sketchy 

Experience as well as the literature on the wild life of 
Africa made us realize that it requires more time than is 
usually spent on a hunting expedition to secure definite in- 
formation concerning the habits of elephants, or, for that 
matter, of any other wild animal. But few have the time or 
the inclination to make observations in other than a superfi- 
cial way. It is astounding how much some African travelers 
have to tell us about the habits of animals after a very 
limited experience with them and how little trained ob- 
servers have to offer on the same subject after years of 
earnest endeavor. The former allows his imagination to sub- 
stitute for his lack of knowledge while the latter is satisfied 
only with facts. 

In 1909 our mutual desire to learn more about the habits 
of elephants prompted Mr. Akeley to resign his position at 
the Field Museum of Chicago and to accept a commission 
from the Natural History Museum of New York to return 
to Africa and secure a family group of elephants for 



We sailed on our dangerous mission early in August of 
the same year, little dreaming that the penalty for trying to 
unravel some of the mystery which surrounds the giants of 
the animal kingdom would be so severe. 

The herculean task, combined with the devastating effect 
of various tropical diseases, accidents, and worry wrecked 
Mr. Akeley's health and delayed our activities to such an 
extent that it exhausted the very limited funds subscribed 
by the museum for the work and plunged us into personal 

It took us two years of the most strenuous and dangerous 
kind of hunting known to man to secure the elephants for 
that group, learn something of their life in the forest, and 
prepare their colossal hides for safe transportation out of the 
forests over mountains, plains, and sea back to America. 

That we finally completed our task and made it possible 
for the American Museum of Natural History of New York 
to have the distinction of being the only institution in the 
world to possess a family group of African elephants was 
entirely due to Mr. Akeley's indomitable perseverance and 

Although repeated attacks of fever had poisoned his blood 
and dysentery wasted his strength to such an alarming extent 
that I often feared for his life, he refused to give up. Even 
when the impoverished condition of his blood caused ugly 
ulcers to appear on his hands and feet he would not heed 
my pleadings to return to civilization where he could obtain 
skilled medical treatment. 

There were many occasions when elephants were reported 
in the vicinity of our camp that I went out with the native 



guides to inspect them, always hoping I might be able to 
secure the desired specimen so Mr. Akeley could leave the 
country before it claimed him for its own. Sometimes when 
I was obliged to remain in camp to care for the specimens 
we had so laboriously collected, Mr. Akeley would, although 
utterly unfit, insist upon going after the animals alone. The 
strenuous effort, however, usually brought on a relapse and 
his boys would bring him back in a hammock made of his 
blankets, and I would begin the stubborn fight for his life 
all over again. 

There were no white companions in our expedition to 
share my anxiety or to sit beside his cot while the fever 
raged. To trust his life to the care of black boys was un- 
thinkable, so there were days and nights without cessation 
when meningitis, spirillum, and black-water fever, in turn, 
threatened his life, that I did not close my eyes. 

Finally, to escape the trying rainy season of Uganda and 
give Mr. Akeley a change of climate, we decided to return 
to East Africa for a vacation. That our work might not 
suffer, we planned to go to the top of Mt. Kenya, eighteen 
thousand feet, and thereby learn the range in altitude of ele- 
phants. Mr. Akeley quickly recovered his strength in the 
bracing air of the Uasin Gishu Plateau, where we stopped 
for a month to make motion pictures of the Nandi warriors 
spearing lions. Then on we went to Lake Baringo and 
crossed the Northern Massi Reserve to Mt. Kenya. Ill 
luck seemed to follow us, for after a glorious journey to the 
glaciers and back without mishap Mr. Akeley went into the 
forest to make photographs, accompanied by a few of his 
bo)?s, and was caught and so badly mauled by an elephant 



that he was confined to his cot in our mountain camp for 
nearly three months. 

It was, however, while he was convalescing that we had 
one of our most exciting experiences with elephants. 

It had been my custom during his illness to go hunting 
once or twice a week in an effort to vary our diet of native 
sheep. My favorite hunting ground was a huge depression 
on the edge of the forest, about an hour's walk from camp. 
In the rainy season this vast concavity was a lake with an 
island of scrub trees rising from the center of it. When the 
water receded a rank growth of vegetation, coarse swamp 
grass and willow bushes bound together with tough vines, 
was exposed; it attracted to the place game birds such as 
guinea fowl, quail, and f rancolin, and various kinds of small 

One day when I was preparing to start out for a hunt Mr. 
Akeley suddenly caused great rejoicing in camp by deciding 
to accompany me. With a boy carrying a chair, so that he 
might rest frequently, and a tea basket filled with lunch for 
two we set out following the old Kikuyu guide and our 
gun bearers along the narrow, well-known trail. 

As we neared the swamp the guide, who had preceded 
the others, came running back with the startling news that 
he had found the fresh spoor of an elephant on the path. 
The animal had come out of the forest during the night and 
was somewhere in the low bush ahead of us. 

It often happens, when a man meets with an accident 
while hunting, that he loses his morale. Sometimes he does 
not know what has happened to him until he is again facing 
danger, when his courage suddenly deserts him, and perhaps 



he or one of his companions is killed. Imperative as It was 
to put Mr. Akeley's courage to the test before going back 
to hunt in the high-grass jungles in Uganda, I was terrified 
at the possibilities which confronted us and quite ready to 
turn back. 

The sight of the big footprint on the path made me 
shiver, although it was the only sign we saw of the elephant 
until we reached the swamp. And then it was the keen eyes 
of the old guide that located him first, standing on the edge 
of the island of trees, slowly swinging his ears and feeding 
off the vegetation in front of him with his trunk. 

While we stood and watched him through our glasses, 
the guide located his trail. Marking his position by a 
near-by bush we descended the bank and followed across the 

It took us nearly an hour to reach our goal, for the ele- 
phant had meandered back and forth in apparent holiday 
mood, and Mr. Akeley was frequently obliged to sit down on 
the chair and rest. 

We approached our landmark with great caution, for a 
mighty stillness was all about us and the faintest sound in 
such places is often carried to an unbelievable distance* Sud- 
denly we were startled by a loud rumbling noise. It was too 
close for the cautious old guide who, after indicating with 
his spear the direction of the elephant, vanished like a 

As I moved quickly forward to locate the elephant's posi- 
tion there was a trumpet-like cry and a crash of bushes. 
The next instant a black shape swept past me and the 
branches descended upon me with such force that my hat 


was knocked off, and I was so stunned that I dropped my 
gun. Before I had time to recover it the elephant had dis- 
appeared in the grove of trees, and I was truly thankful that 
my only injury was a very sore head and a slight wound on 
my hand. 

Picking up my hat and gun I looked back and saw Mr. 
Akeley sitting on the ground with his back to the bushes. 
The excitement of the last few moments and the exertion 
of the journey had exhausted his strength and it was with 
the greatest difficulty that we finally got him back to camp 
and put him to bed. 

At dinner time, however, the fatigue was gone and he 
insisted upon sitting up. Under the stimulating influence of 
a whisky and soda he ate a hearty dinner and afterward sat 
for an hour beside the camp fire smoking his pipe. 

The following morning, to my great surprise, he was up 
and roused the camp when the roosters began to crow. With 
that invincible spirit which was always my inspiration, and 
which carried us through the early years of hard work and 
sacrifice while developing his talents, he insisted upon going 
back to the swamp to settle the question of his morale. 

It was bitterly cold when we started, and the usual pene- 
trating Kenya fog shrouded the land. The bushes that 
bordered the trail dripped with heavy dew and we were 
soaked to the skin before we had gone ten yards. 

The picnic mood of the day before was lacking in our fol- 
lowers, for there is nothing quite so eff ective in silencing the 
tongue of an African native as the chill of an early morning 

The guide had given his thin, wrinkled old body a fresh 



coating of castor oil and red clay. But even this precaution 
against the cold did not loosen his tongue. Going at a slow 
dogtrot, the old man kept just ahead of us, hunching his 
shoulders and holding the dirty hyrax skin cape that had 
served him for years as bed, blanket, and cape tightly over 
his chest. 

Early as it was, we could hear the monkeys in the tree- 
tops calling to one another as they foraged for their break- 
fast. We could also hear the dismal wails of hyenas, return- 
ing, no doubt, to their lairs in the forest after a night of 
hunting for human flesh in the shambas. Cavarando cranes 
and beautiful ibises that roosted nightly in the high trees on 
the mountain were calling raucously as they winged their way 
through the fog back to their feeding grounds on the plains 
many miles below. 

It was very evident that the native path which skirted the 
forest was a boulevard for the night-prowling denizens of 
the jungle. We saw the dainty tracks of duikers, squirrels, 
mongooses, hyrax, and serval cats on the damp earth. Twice 
we came face to face with jackals and once, when rounding 
a bend in the path, a leopard snarled and we were just in 
time to see it bound across the path and disappear in the 
bushes like a ghost. 

When we came to the place where we had seen the ele- 
phant spoor the day before the old guide suddenly stopped 
and, snapping his fingers to attract our attention, whispered, 
"tembo engeni" (another elephant). 

Sure enough, there on the earth, almost touching the big 
circular footmark of the first elephant, was the telltale 
spoor of a second animal. It was very evident that he had 



just passed and was in the bush not far away; for the mois- 
ture of the dew-saturated atmosphere had not had time to 
dampen the dust which was exposed when the rough sole of 
his big foot carried the upper layer of damp earth away. 

Like a bloodhound following a scent the old man picked 
up the trail and we plunged into the dripping bushes after 
him. Finding that the elephant was going in our direction, 
we returned to the path and silently hurried on, hoping the 
fog would lift so we could at least get a glimpse of the 
mammoth before he joined his relative in the swamp. 

The possibility of having an elephant suddenly loom be- 
fore us in the heavy mist prompted Mr. Akeley to take his 
gun from the boy, and together we walked, one before the 
other, with loaded rifles ready for emergencies. 

We reached the path skirting the swamp, however, with- 
out receiving any indication other than the footprint that 
an elephant was in the vicinity. 

Undecided what to do next, we were standing on the 
trail peering into the mist and listening for the familiar 
sound of breaking branches when suddenly an icy breeze 
swept down off the glaciers, bringing with it a fog so dense 
that it blanketed the land and left us marooned, even from 
one another, on the trail. We might have been blind for 
all that was visible and no sound of bird or beast broke the 
stillness of our strange, damp prison. 

It was not an enviable place for a rendezvous with an 
elephant and I prayed that an energetic breeze would storm 
the wall of fog and carry it away before one blundered our 
way. We were kept in suspense, however, for at least a 
half hour. Then it grew lighter and men and trees took 



shape. As it came, swiftly and mysteriously, so the gray 
blanket lifted, disclosing the swamp which suddenly became 
arrestingly beautiful. 

Sun-touched clouds of mist began to rise over a glittering 
sea of dew-wet vegetation, swift currents of air lifted them 
upward and dragged veils of vapor skyward and swept 
them in trailing, tattered remnants off toward the ice-crowned 
mountain behind us. 

While we were lost in admiration of the beautiful scene, 
the guide, whose sense of beauty had nothing to do with 
cold, wet grass and shifting mists, went, without leave, to 
locate the elephant. 

His effort brought us suddenly back to the business of 
hunting when a loud trumpet and a crashing of bushes 
sounded on our left. Swinging around, we saw the elephant 
coming out of the bush not forty yards away. His head was 
up, his ears were cocked, and his tail stuck stiffly out at an 
angry angle. It was obvious that he was thoroughly alarmed 
and heading for the forest. With an angry, rumbling sound, 
not unlike that of a high-powered motor, he plowed his 
way through the bush in our direction. 

He had a fine pair of tusks, for a Kenya elephant, so we 
raised our guns to shoot. But before we could aim he 
became aware of our presence and, with amazing agility, 
whipped around and, trumpeting shrilly, made for the 
swamp without giving us a chance for a fatal shot. 

In a frantic effort to keep him up on the bank, where we 
could care for his hide with less trouble, we aimed ahead 
of him and fired off our guns. Our shots seemed only to 




accelerate his movements, for he plunged down the bank, 
leaving a big hole in the earth and a cloud of dust behind 
him. In spite of the barrage which we poured into the 
bush ahead of him he never swerved from his course, but 
kept gallantly on at top speed and entered the grove amid 
loud trumpetings. 

We followed him, but owing to the dense, thorny under- 
brush could not enter the grove. Finally we decided to try 
and drive him out. 

Taking our stand on top of an ant hill we began making 
a great kelele firing off our guns and shouting. We kept 
this up for hours, stopping only for lunch and an occasional 

Along in the afternoon when we were discouraged and 
almost ready to return to camp, the natives on the other 
bank signaled that elephants had come into the open 
on their side. 

To reach them before sundown or before they made for 
the big forest was imperative. But a mile or more of path- 
less jungle growth willow bushes and coarse grass six feet 
high bound together by tough vines and creepers lay be- 
tween us and the other bank. 

After a consultation we decided to make our own trail. 
Taking hold of sticks and guns with both hands, we forced 
the bushes down before us, making a bridge of the tough, 
springy mass that wobbled under our feet with every step. 

It was like trying to walk over a bed of steel springs. A 
more strenuous and exhausting form of exercise could not 
have been devised for an invalid. Under our feet the 



crushed vegetation became as slippery as ice and we strained 
every muscle to keep our balance. 

Fortunately our men were a happy, willing lot and did 
their best to make it easy for Mr. Akeley. In spite of their 
efforts, and two stout sticks which he used for balance, it 
took him an hour and a half to reach the high ground on 
the other side. 

Happily, the journey was not without incident of an amus- 
ing character. A laugh always means relaxation to a native 
and makes a difficult task easier. In a trying situation in 
that country it is often of far greater value than the coin of 
the realm. When halfway across we were suddenly thrown 
into a panic by the unearthly shriek of a hyena and a great 
commotion in the bush ahead of us. At the same time the 
boy in the lead gave a terrified yell and, falling backward, 
disappeared from sight. We pulled him out of the bushes 
none the worse for his acrobatic performance and then held 
our sides with laughter at his version of what had happened. 

He had actually pressed the wall of vegetation down upon 
the body of a sleeping hyena and when the startled beast 
jumped to its feet and shrieked as only a startled hyena 
can, the terrified boy lost his head as well as his balance 
and fell backward into the bush. 

Finally we landed on the other side, not far from the 
elephants. The physical strain was over, but a mental strain 
far more exhausting than the exercise of body muscles faced 
us. Mr. Akeley was very white and tired but still game. 

We could see the elephants standing together, one facing 
the swamp and the other the mountain, as if they were at 
odds which way to go. Danger threatened from both direc- 



tions, for a noisy group of natives had gathered on a hill 
between them and the forest to watch us. 

There was no time to lose; for the setting sun was even 
then sinking behind the horizon of hills and the fog which 
isolates the foothills of Kenya nightly was sweeping down 
from the mountain top toward us. 

Leaving all but Mr. Akeley 's gun boy, who was carrying 
his second rifle, behind us, we stole silently forward along a 
native path which led to a tiny beehive-shaped hut. 

From this point of vantage we had a clear view of the 
elephants, as they stood swinging their ears, about seventy- 
five yards away. The light was bad for shooting, but the 
crotch of a tree afforded a splendid rest for Mr. Akeley's 
gun and as there was no sign of life about the hut even the 
customary water jar and grinding stone, so much a part of 
every African dooryard, was missing we decided to begin 
operations from here. 

Both animals had good tusks and I agreed to take one ele- 
phant and Mr. Akeley the other, firing together when he 
gave the signal. 

Standing before the entrance to the hut I raised my rifle 
and waited for the signal. Fatigue and a desire to be sure 
of his shot made Mr. Akeley slow in getting his gun in 
position and before he was ready the thin veil of mist 
reached the elephants, blurring my vision. To make mat- 
ters worse the elephant I was after became alarmed for 
some reason and, wheeling in our direction, spread his great 
ears and trumpeted threateningly. 

Like some human beings, who think only of their own 
safety when danger threatens, the other elephant swung in 



the opposite direction and was heading for the swamp just 
as the resounding explosion of our guns made him change his 
course and caused my elephant to charge. 

As the wounded leviathan bore down on us with terrific 
speed, screaming like a siren, something touched my leg. 
Glancing quickly down I beheld, crouching in the doorway, 
a little girl with a tiny baby in her arms and over her shoul- 
der peered the terrified face of another child. 

For a second I was petrified with horror, and then, with 
but one thought in my mind, I gripped my t gun and pulled 
the trigger. As our rifles barked in unison the infuriated 
beast collapsed and with a gurgling sigh rolled over on his 
side, not ten feet from the hut where the helpless children 

The little girl had, as often happens, been left at home 
to care for the smaller children while the mother went to 
market. Being unused to seeing white people in this out- 
of-the-way place, she was terrified when she saw us stalking 
up the path. So she did the first thing that occurred to her 
childish mind, which was to dash into the hut and hide under 
the sleeping mats. When the poor child heard the roar of 
our guns and the awful scream of the elephant her one 
thought was to escape, but she was prevented by my legs 
which blocked the doorway. Had our last shots failed 1 
shudder, even now, to think what might have happened to 

No sooner was the elephant down than a yelling, laughing 
mob of natives came leaping and running from their hiding 
places in the bushes. 

They gathered in the foggy dusk like birds of prey about 



the huge body of the elephant. Brandishing knives they 
shouted and laughed and all talked at once in joyous antici- 
pation of the great feast which had walked right into their 

Owing to the fog and the excitement the other elephant 
made his escape. It had been a trying day for all of us, espe- 
cially for Mr. Akeley who had so gallantly faced again a 
maddened elephant. So with an escort of natives carrying 
firebrands and singing lustily to frighten prowling animals, 
we made our way over the hills along the native paths back 
to camp. 

Weary as Mr. Akeley was, the knowledge that his morale 
had not suffered by his almost fatal encounter with the 
elephant was like a tonic, and he made the homeward jour- 
ney in very buoyant mood. 

Although years have passed since that morning when I 
stood with my invalid husband on the edge of the vast bush- 
covered swamp looking for an elephant in the fog, I can 
see it all as clearly as if it happened yesterday. There was 
something so wild, so strange and impressive about the utter 
loneliness and loveliness of the place that it has lived and 
returns frequently to charm and rejuvenate my memory. In- 
stead of the dangers and hardships which were obviously 
ours on that long, eventful expedition, it is this vision which 
comes to my mind when I think of the monumental group 
of elephants which Mr. Akeley and I risked so much to 
obtain for the New York Natural History Museum. 



THE green canvas tent, so necessarily a part of every 
white man's equipment when traveling in Eastern Africa, is 
rarely used in the Congo. Government resthouses, which 
serve for the convenience of European travelers as well as 
for government officials, have been erected at comfortable 
marching distances throughout the country. 

These houses are mere empty rooms, it being the custom 
for all travelers to bring their own food, bed, bedding, bath- 
tub, and servants with them. The luxury and security of a 
big-game hunter's camp, where askaris (native soldiers) are 
always on guard to keep the camp fires burning and protect 
the sleeping Nimrod from sudden attacks of wild beasts, is 
almost unknown in this vast section of the African continent. 

The style of architecture, building material, and sanitary 
conditions surrounding these resthouses vary according to 
the importance of the district and the intelligence and effi- 
ciency of the white official in charge. So varied indeed are 
the conditions surrounding these primitive houses and the 
type of people who occupy them that a traveler never knows 
what danger, in the form of tropical disease, may await him, 
nor what housing problem may confront him at the end of a 
hard day's march. He does not know what branch, caste, 
gender, or plurality of the weird human family may be his 
neighbor or neighbors for the night. 



It may be that an official, on his round collecting poll tax 
from the natives, has forestalled him and made the rest- 
house his temporary headquarters. Or it may be that a 
trader, a labor-recruiting agent, a sportsman, a missionary, 
or a prospector, traveling through the wilderness in search 
of elusive gold, shares the shelter with the traveler; unless, 
as it sometimes happens, he is accompanied by his jungle 
family, in which case he usually takes possession of the whole 

Any one who has traveled far in the Congo and lived in 
these shelters will, I am sure, agree that the term resthouse 
is a misnomer. It is not conducive to rest or even peace of 
mind to know that you can have no privacy; for the bamboo 
poles that form the walls are no barrier to the eyes of 
jungle Peeping Toms that gather outside to watch your 
preparations for the night. 

Nor does it invite repose to receive a visit from a loqua- 
cious Sultan just after you are installed in a resthouse and 
have him describe, with gruesome detail, how the last occu- 
pant died, a victim of some jungle disease, possibly con- 
tagious; or to call your attention to the new roof, which he 
assures you he was obliged to put on the house to replace 
the old one which a few nights before a band of marauding 
elephants had carried away. 

The sanitary conditions surrounding these houses are 
always an anxiety. Hygiene means nothing to the native 
caretakers, and often the traveler has no choice but to risk 
his health and perhaps his life by spending the night in one 
of these old encampments. 

In all fairness it must be said that this unpleasant feature 



o the Congo resthouse is not always the fault of the official 
nor of the local natives in charge of the camping ground, 
but rather of the traveler himself who, when in the jungle, 
quickly reverts to his natural tendencies and becomes crim- 
inally negligent. Such travelers selfishly disregard the fact 
that others will follow them and go their way leaving the 
shelter they have occupied through the kindness and courtesy 
of the government looking like a pigsty. 

It is almost impossible to teach a group of Congo natives 
how to set up a tent. The few times that I was obliged to 
use mine I felt after the task was finished as if I had accom- 
plished a real achievement. With willing enough hands they 
get the ropes hopelessly tangled. The canvas is sure to 
be wrong-side out and the ridgepole groans and creaks and 
threatens to crack as they pull and push the supports in every 
direction but the right one. 

In some of the out-of-the-way districts, where the official 
is lax, the resthouse is merely a glorified edition of a native 
hut, built after the local design. In the steaming heat pecu- 
liar to the Congo and the indifference of the natives these 
huts quickly fall into decay. The roofs leak, the supports 
rot and become insecure and wobbly and ready to topple 
over at the slightest encouragement, 

The traveler who is obliged to spend a night in one of 
these shelters will have sufficient cause and wakeful moments 
to bemoan the absence of a tent. Millions of mosquitoes, 
tiny black flies, and fleas breed in the rotting grass on the 
roof and in the dirt and debris left on the floor by the last 
occupant. In spite of the traveler's precautions the ravenous 
insects leap and light upon him. They crawl down his 



collar, up his sleeves and through his stockings. They will 
take complete possession of his person and banquet greedily 
and sumptuously upon his blood while he slaps, scratches, 
squirms, and swears. Fortunate indeed is he who escapes 
from one of these shelters without becoming infected with 
some malignant fever germ. 

On the main-traveled routes the resthouses are more pre- 
tentious. At many of the camping places houses are built 
for the exclusive use of the officials, visiting royalty, or mem- 
bers of investigating committees. These are kept locked 
and guarded by the native police, while the neighboring 
shelter built to accommodate the unimportant traveler is 
often neglected and unfit for occupancy by either man or 

The typical Congo resthouse consists of two rooms, sep- 
arated in the middle by a broad corridor open at both ends. 
This corridor serves the official as an office when collecting 
poll tax from the natives, and the traveler for both sitting 
room and dining room. Where there are industrial missions 
the house and often the floors are made of native sun-dried 
brick. These are, however, the exception. 

Light, substantial building material can be had for the 
gathering in the jungle. Therefore bamboo poles, bound 
together with lianas, are mostly employed in constructing 
the side walls. In certain districts the native builders prefer 
to cover the walls of the house with a sticky clay which when 
dry turns white and gives the impression that the house has 
been whitewashed. 

These mud walls are often the art galleries of the jungle. 
Under the low overhanging roof, which is usually thatched 



with coarse swamp grass or phrynium leaves, one finds re- 
markable drawings of birds, beasts, and reptiles. Sometimes 
the talent and versatility of the artist are shown in a humor- 
ous sketch of a domestic scene, or an animated elephant hunt. 
Although travelers laugh and call these people savages, 
never once in all my wanderings did I find one of these pre- 
cious wall drawings defaced by a malicious person, such as 
would have been the case in almost any civilized community. 

On account of the excessive rainfall the houses are built 
on raised mud platforms which are sometimes reenforced by 
a compact row of posts sunk in the earth. The platforms 
extend well beyond the walls of the house, under the pro- 
tecting roof to form a barasa (porch). The floors are of 
mud, stamped flat by the barefooted workmen while the 
clay is moist; and sometimes crude serving tables of bamboo 
poles are built on the veranda close to the wall. 

In districts where the white official is intelligent and takes 
pride in his work, the resthouses are large and often sur- 
rounded by an acre or more of ground, fenced in. These 
fences are sometimes a riot of brilliant colors when flowering 
vines take possession of them and almost hide the palings. 
From the gate to the house the path is often bordered by a 
row of white stones and flaming red cannas or some other 
flowering tropical plant. Owing to the danger from snakes 
the ground is kept free from grass. But fruit trees indige- 
nous to the country, such as orange, mango, and lime, flour- 
ish in the yard and offer shade and refreshment to the tired 
and hungry when the fruit is in season. 

The kitchen and servants' quarters are built in the rear, 
some distance from the house. Here, close to the fence, 



delicious cape gooseberries, tiny yellow tomatoes, and luscious 
pineapples grow, sometimes so abundantly as to hide the 
lence completely. 

To protect the occupant of the resthouse from the fierce 
rays of the sun, the too curious natives, and the night-prowl- 
ing wild animals, awnings of long bamboo poles, cleverly 
tied together with lianas, fall from the roof to the floor of 
the veranda. These screens can be raised or lowered to suit 
the wishes of the individual. 

The intelligent official demands that the Sultan and petty 
Sultans of his district be responsible for the necessary repairs 
on these buildings and the sanitary conditions surrounding 
them. The Sultans are also responsible for the reception 
accorded to travelers. It is their duty to provide chickens, 
eggs, and vegetables for the white man's table, as well as 
food for his carriers. This is often a severe strain on the 
native women, who do most of the agricultural work, espe- 
cially those living in the vicinity of the government stations 
or in a mining district, where they are obliged, under severe 
penalty, to contribute and deliver the major share of their 
crops to supply food for the laborers and inhabitants, both 
black and white. 

Unfortunately all dwellings, especially the poorly con- 
structed ones, deteriorate quickly in the Congo. Therefore 
even the best of the resthouses are not all that a timid or 
fastidious traveler might desire. Although they may look 
very picturesque and inviting to the weary traveler at the 
end o a hard day's journey, especially when the house is 
built on the bank of a river or in a grove of lovely palm 
trees, the experienced traveler knows that he must personally 



inspect his new quarters with a lighted lantern before moving 
in. He must be certain that a poisonous snake has not fore- 
stalled him or that his servants do not brush the rubbish left 
by the last occupant, which may have been a group of na- 
tives or a white man whose habits were no better than those 
of his primitive followers, into a corner and forget to 
remove it. 

It is almost unbelievable how many people travel in 
Africa many of them hailing from America amply sup- 
plied with native servants to do their bidding, who lack the 
common decency of leaving a camping place as clean as they 
found it. They seem to feel, as many of them have the 
temerity to state, that they are the only ones who have passed 
or will pass that way forgetting that all those who travel 
do not advertise the fact by writing a book about it. 

Rarely do these resthouses have openings for windows. 
Those that do are provided with wooden shutters. If the 
natives or some thoughtless traveler has not used them for 
fuel or appropriated them for their own use they or a sub- 
stitute must be put up at night to guard against leopards. 
Often one finds that the door of the hut is also missing. In 
which case I often used a substitute of palm leaves, behind 
which I made a barricade of my heavy boxes. The risks, 
however, were greater than having no door at all, for had 
the grass on the roof become ignited during the night by a 
spark from the kitchen fire or a bolt of lightning my chance 
of escape would have been slim indeed, for the dry grass 
burns as quickly and fiercely as if it were soaked in oil. I 
was told of instances where the roof collapsed before the 
occupants had time to reach the door and the next day their 



charred bodies were found in the ruins, together with the 
unburnable portions of their belongings. 

In the dry, hot season the combination of shutters and 
overhanging roof excludes the air from these so-called rest- 
houses and gives the occupant the feeling that he is in a 
hermetically sealed room. Lying under a close-mesh mos- 
quito net, as one must do, inhaling the noxious odors of 
moldy earth and former occupants adds to the torture. Many 
times on my journey across the Congo I have waked in the 
night to find myself lying in a pool of perspiration and fairly 
gasping for air. 

Nor is the traveler the only occupant of these houses. Al- 
most as soon as the thatch is put on it becomes infested with 
rats, spiders, thousand-legged worms, toads, centipedes, and 
often poisonous snakes. Insect pests such as fleas and the 
tiny fever-giving spirillum tick, which is carried from one 
camping ground to another by the natives or in one's lug- 
gage, hide in the cracks on the floor and are a constant 

The lonely traveler's evenings are sure to be enlivened by 
the bats, which in the daytime cling head downward to the 
roof and at dusk leave their moorings to feed. While pur- 
suing their meal of insects they wheel and volplane about 
the room, darting here and zigzagging there with disconcert- 
ing swiftness. It became part of my evening's program to 
rid my room of bats before retiring, and I have often cap- 
tured, with my butterfly net, as many as fifty in an hour. 

Reading or writing letters in the evening is almost im- 
possible for the traveler in the Congo, because every rest- 
house is a nursery for mosquitoes and the only possible way 



to escape the onslaught of their legions is to retire under a 
net directly after dinner. Even then the chances are that one 
will have but little rest, for about the time one is in a half- 
unconscious state from the influence of sleep and the stifling 
atmosphere of the place the senses are jolted back to con- 
sciousness by a thud on the floor or a rustling sound over- 
head. If the traveler is a woman, timid and alone as I was, 
she will know real terror. While she listens breathlessly, 
some creature, rat or serpent, will drag its body slowly over 
the floor cloth toward her cot, or across the dry grass in the 
roof overhead. In the silence of the jungle night all sounds 
seem strange, exaggerated, and portentous to a stranger in 
that strange land. 

It is the experienced traveler who carefully examines his 
mosquito net before retiring to make sure that the ropes at 
the four corners are tied firmly and the net at the top does 
not sag overmuch. 

It sometimes happens, as it did to me, that a snake will, 
by accident or evil intent, drop like an acrobat from the roof 
and He hissing and wriggling frantically in the middle of 
the elastic net, a few inches above the terrified traveler's 

Dangerous and frightening as was the meteoric descent of 
the snake upon my net, it did not hold half the terror for me 
that the nocturnal visit of playful rodents did. They came 
with their families after the camp was quiet and kept me 
awake many a night, beating the sides of my cot to scare 
them away. 

Crawling down the walls from their nests in the roof, they 
would brace and guide their bodies with their long tapering 




tails. They would stop frequently on their downward jour- 
ney to raise their heads, wriggle their noses, and sniff die 
air. Round about my bags and boxes they would go on a 
tour of investigation. When satisfied they would chase one 
another about the room and up the walls, squealing as they 
raced across the roof and descended again to romp over the 
floor and rob me of a much needed rest. Sometimes the 
ugly, loathsome creatures would come close to my bed and 
standing upright sniff the air. The boldest would crawl up 
the legs of my cot, and once one of them leaped from the 
chair at the head of my bed and clung to my mosquito net 
until I struck it with my revolver and knocked it to the 

Of all the many agencies that combine to try the courage 
of a lone woman traveling in Africa there is nothing, to my 
mind, more trying than to be in one of these old resthouses 
in the rainy season when it is cold and disagreeable, with 
one's morale low, and when one is wondering what sort of 
a complex prompted straying so far from the comfort and 
luxuries of civilization. Indeed, it takes real courage to go 
to sleep in one of those firetraps when the lightning is lash- 
ing the sky and the thunder booms and crashes and rocks 
the insecure mud walls. 

Sometimes the force and volume of the tropical down- 
pour sends a flood of water through the decayed and rotten 
grass on the roof. The wind forces the spray through every 
crack and crevice at the side, and in spite of all the 
maneuvering one can do it soaks one's bedding and belong- 
ings. It forms in pools on the floor which break and send 
little rivulets in all directions. In the faint light of a lan- 


teni iey look like black, writhing serpents creeping nearer 
and nearer to the unhappy, shivering occupant of a rain- 
soaked bed, 

There is still another reason why I feel that the name rest- 
house is a misnomer, and it is the millions of unseen tenants 
which, although not dangerous to life, help to destroy one's 
peace of mind as well as one's property. These are the 
termites, or white ants as they are more popularly called. 
These devastating pests feed on the poles which support 
the thatch. When disturbed they show their annoyance by 
striking the mud tunnels, which they always build to conceal 
their activities, with their bodies. The violent action of their 
combined myriads makes a noise like a rattle and causes a 
fine white dust to descend and cover everything like a pall 
of snow. 

Nor do they confine themselves to overhead activities. If 
through ignorance or carelessness a shoe, a wooden box, or 
a gun case is left on the mud floor overnight, the chances 
are that the ants will come up through the ground and 
find it. In the morning there will be nothing left to 
tell what the object was but a perfect mold of hardening 

The termites are what a traveler addicted to slang might 
call "fast workers." Their numbers are legion and their 
thoroughness and singleness of purpose are truly admirable. 

At one resthouse which I occupied in a clearing in the 
Ituri Forest the termites were unusually active, and the little 
creatures were responsible for as bad a fright and as anxious 
a few moments as I ever experienced in all my African 



When I arrived In the clearing early in the afternoon I 
found that the natives were, as is their custom, celebrating 
a death. It was very evident from the looks of the people 
and the odor which emanated from the hut of the departed 
one that the festivities had been in progress for several days. 
The desolate wails of the professional mourners, reclining 
under the veranda, mingled with the livelier sounds of beat- 
ing drums and shuffling bare feet. It was also quite evident 
that the palm trees in the vicinity had been drained of their 
intoxicating life blood for the occasion. 

Despite the inebriated condition of the Sultan and his 
capita (adjutant), and the fact that I and my porters had 
arrived in their midst unheralded, I was almost too cordially 
received and gallantly escorted to the resthouse by the most 
hilarious looking lot of mourners it has been my luck to see. 

Traveling as I did without white companions I was thank- 
ful that the resthouse was in a little clearing by itself, and 
some distance from the celebrating natives. The kitchen 
and huts where my boys slept were also some distance from 
the house a little farther for my peace of mind than I 
cared to have them. But the resthouse was new, clean, and 
unusually large. So large was the floor space that my 8 x 10 
specially-treated, insect-proof floor cloth looked like a mat 
when we spread it down on the mud floor. 

When arranging the room my servant had carefully placed 
all my belongings on this canvas to protect them from ants. 
As was my custom, upon retiring I made a careful survey of 
the room to see that everything was in place and to impress 
upon my mind, in case of emergency, if the roof caught fire 
or a drink-crazed native or some wild animal suddenly 



attempted to enter the house, the exact position of my guns 
and the easiest way of retreat. 

Rain had cooled the stifling atmosphere earlier in the 
evening and a refreshing breeze circulated through the barn- 
boo walls and lulled me to sleep. I was very tired after a 
day of strenuous up-and-down hill-marching and slept 
soundly until about four o'clock in the morning, when I was 
suddenly roused by a movement of my cot. 

Used to the necessity of having to depend on myself, hav- 
ing complete control of my faculties, and being ready to act 
the moment of awakening in the jungle, I quickly snatched 
my revolver from under my pillow and sat up in bed. With 
every hair of my head straining at the roots and my back all 
cold and shivery with goose flesh I peered through the mos- 
quito net into the room, which was dimly lit by the lowered 
wick of a lantern, and waited for another sign from the 
intruder. There was none. I might have been the only 
living creature left in that jungle world, it was so still. One 
terrifying possibility after another flashed into my mind and 
magnified the danger with each new thought. 

Could it be that a native had dared to enter the house? 
It might be a snake that had dropped from the roof and 
struck my cot in falling. Or perhaps it was a meandering 
elephant that had brushed against the eaves in passing. Could 
it be that a leopard had entered through the opening be- 
tween the wall and the roof and, leopard-like, was stalking 
me? Perhaps he would approach from the dark, behind my 
cot, and spring upon me before I could escape his claws 
or shoot. 

In an agony of doubt I waited for the death which seemed 



*w3i * 


as^22^ftft&*5s&^ < 




to my terrified senses to be inevitable. Presently off in the 
village a dog barked. Then a rooster crowed. For some 
unexplainable reason the sounds gave me the courage to say 
in my most aggressive tone of voice, "Wa$aka nini?> (What 
do you want?) The sound of my own voice breaking the 
awful stillness in the room was startling. 

As nothing happened I could stand the suspense no longer 
and decided to act. Still gripping my revolver, I lifted my 
mosquito net, and, unhampered by the mesh, peered into 
the dark corners. In the dull light of my smoky lantern I 
saw a dark object standing at the foot of my cot, which 
seemed from my position to be the outline of a man. With 
more haste than dignity I left my bed and caught up the 
lantern. Hastily turning up the wick I raised it over my head 
so as to throw the light on the silent and motionless figure. 
It did not move. Cautiously, with lantern still raised over 
my head and revolver leveled at the unmoving object, I 
approached. Imagine my surprise and relief to find that in- 
stead of some savage creature, ready to take my life, the 
intruder was nothing more terrible than an ant hill, which 
the amazing little builders had erected during the nine hours 
that I had been asleep. In my sudden release from fear to 
relief I laughed aloud and going to the door thrust it aside 
and shouted for my servants to arise from their beds and 
prepare for our journey. I was quite ready to go my way and 
leave the house as well as the ant hill to the tireless little 
workers and their progeny. 

Before I left the scene of my adventure, I measured the 
remarkable structure and found that it was three feet two 
inches high and ninety-six inches in circumference, broad- 



.ening here and diminishing there according to the little 
workers' plan or purpose. 

The motod of earth was moist and sticky from the glue- 
like consistency of their saliva, which they used in cementing 
the grains of dirt together and which when thoroughly dry 
has the resistance of stone. 

The army of workers had actually undermined the ground 
lor some distance beneath my floor cloth, and it was the 
leg of my cot breaking through the thin crust of earth that 
awoke me and led to the ridiculous though somewhat stir- 
ring adventure. 

I am quite sure the reader will agree with me that the 
name resthouse is a misnomer. But, like its parent, the 
dak-bungalow of India, the resthouse of the Congo has 
become an institution and in spite of its faults will continue 
to be a haven of doubtful rest for the roving white man. 



OF the many hideous reptiles -common to Africa the croco- 
diles take precedence. They are found in almost all the 
lakes and rivers of suitable depth and temperature, ready 
to seize man or beast and drag them down to a horrible 

In remote places where crocodiles have been practically 
undisturbed by the guns of white men they crawl out of the 
water during the heat of the day to sun themselves. Incon- 
gruously they lie on the sand bars, with gaping jaws and 
armored bodies, side by side with a family of sleeping 

Often, when the bar is too narrow to accommodate their 
numbers, these ferocious creatures crawl on top of one an- 
other and lie like logs of wood cast up by the flood. Those 
at the bottom of the pile are sometimes completely buried 
beneath the others. At the slightest suspicion of danger 
the mass of monsters is quickly galvanized into action, and 
as they snap and struggle and plunge to safety the water is 
churned into foam with the violent lashing of their long 

It is only a few moments, however, after their frantic ef- 
forts to escape before eye-knobs begin to appear, here and 
there, on the surface of the water. Satisfied that the danger 


is past or only a false alarm, they swim back to the bar and 
cautiously raise their grotesque and horrible heads above 
the water. Crawling out on land, they run with unbeliev- 
able speed on short, thick, scaly legs to reach their favorite 
place in the sunshine. It is then that the big crocodiles look 
like the armored dragons of a long-forgotten past, and 
remind one of the prehistoric animals in the priceless can- 
vases which the famous artist Charles R. Knight has exe- 
cuted for the Natural History Museums of New York, Chi- 
cago, and Los Angeles. 

The primary requisite for abundant crocodile life is, nat- 
urally, die existence of a plentiful food supply, and this they 
find in the fish, eels, turtles, otter, and other forms of water 

Man has no way of determining the age of a crocodile. 
We do know, however, that they mature slowly and grow to 
enormous size. Judging by the length and breadth of some 
of the old patriarchs which I have seen in the African rivers, 
their span of life extends over a long period of years. 

Like turtles and lizards and some chameleons and snakes 
the crocodile lays eggs* With crocodile wisdom the female 
chooses a nice sunny spot on a sand bar, where she buries 
her large contribution to the propagation of the race in a 
hole in the sand. She is well aware that no moisture must 
reach the white oval balls, lest the tough shell of the eggs 
decay; therefore she deposits them only in the dry season. 

Without further concern for their safety or the next gen- 
eration of saurians, she goes about her crocodile business and 
leaves her eggs in this marvelous incubator to be hatched by 
the ardent rays of the tropical sun. Affection such as is 


shown In mammals that give birth to their young is unknown 
in the crocodile family. If a baby crocodile were to meet its 
own mother on a sand bar it would not recognize her. 

The number of eggs in a nest varies. Once I found a 
nest on the sun-scorched shore of Lake Baringo with seventy- 
four eggs in It. Two of these eggs were very large and con- 
tained tiny crocodile twins. This was an unusual number, 
I believe, for the majority of the nests I examined ranged 
from forty-five to fifty eggs. 

Fortunately, many of the nests are destroyed before the 
embryos develop and the little crocks are ready to leave 
the shell. The Varanus (Monitor) lizards, pythons, and 
mongooses have a passion for crocodile eggs and rob many 

The mischievous monkeys and baboons also destroy many 
nests; removing the sand cautiously, they throw the eggs 
about in play, sometimes cracking the shells with their teeth 
without touching the fluid. I have often seen young monkeys 
flipping the eggs about on the sand, playing with them 
exactly as kittens play with a ball of yarn. This is Nature's 
way of keeping a balance, and were it not so the crocodile 
family would long ago have outnumbered the fish, their 
main food supply. 

As soon as the tiny crocks that have escaped the monkeys 
and lizards, or the heavy hoof of some thirsty animal com- 
ing to the water to drink, are ready to uncurl and leave the 
shell they push their way up through the hot sand. From 
the moment they see the light of day they are extremely 
active and independent, for they must fend for themselves. 
With the wisdom of an adult, the instant the infant crock 



reaches the surface it makes a bee line for the water, run- 
ning swift and sure in the right direction. 

I have often tried to divert the little black creatures from 
their course by blocking their path. With admirable per- 
sistence they darted, swift as lightning, from left to right in 
an effort to find a way around the obstruction. Try as I 
did, I never found one that could be forced or induced to 
run in the opposite direction from the water. The reason 
for this instinctive caution is perhaps the fact that herons 
and other big birds feast upon them, as they do upon winged 
ants. I have seen cormorants and ibises standing guard 
over a crocodile nest for hours. They cocked their heads to 
listen just as the robins do when looking for worms on a 
lawn. At the psychological moment they thrust their long 
bills into the sand, and bringing forth their wriggling prize 
gulped it down with as much relish as they do a fish. 

Crocodiles are marvelously adapted for the life and con- 
ditions under which they live. Their enemies are few, and 
their food seems to walk into their very jaws. It is only 
necessary for them to lie like a log under the dark brown 
water, close to the bank of the river, and when an animal 
stoops to drink grasp it by the nose and drag it into the 
water, keeping it below the surface, where it is helpless; 
the animals drown and then can be devoured at the croco- 
diles' leisure. 

When they attack large animals, however, like the buf- 
falo or the rhino, a mighty struggle sometimes ensues. On 
my hunting excursions along the African rivers I often came 
across places where a tug of war between the four-footed 
gladiators of land and water had taken place. The trampled 




earth and the bloodstains on the bushes often bore testi- 
mony to the fierceness o the struggle. Sometimes all that 
was left to tell of a pitiful jungle tragedy were the deep 
furrows In the earth leading straight into the water, where 
foot by foot and inch by Inch the powerful armored monster 
had dragged his frantic, struggling victim to a horrible death 
beneath the surface of the water. 

My first experience with a crocodile came in 1905, shortly 
after my arrival in Africa. We were camping on the Athi 
Plains, which in those days teemed with wild life. Accom- 
panied by my Somali gun bearer and a few porters I had 
gone out after water buck, and was stalking a fine specimen 
when the animal became alarmed and bolted. In making its 
escape the frightened beast attempted to cross one of the rain 
pools which dotted the veldt in the neighborhood. 

As the buck plunged into the water we suddenly saw him 
stumble and fall to his knees. At the same time his head 
lunged forward and the lower half disappeared beneath a 
shower of spray. "Crocodile," shouted my excited gun 
bearer, and we raced at top speed toward the pool. 

As we approached, the frantic, struggling animal regained 
its foothold and rose to its feet. At the same time the un- 
mistakable tail of a crocodile flashed in the sunlight and 
quickly lashed the water into foam. Held by the interlock- 
ing teeth of the monster gripping his nostrils, the very 
tenderest part of his anatomy, the poor buck pranced madly 
from side to side before his adversary. Finally, with a su- 
preme effort, he braced his feet and pulled back with all his 
might. As the knife-edged teeth of the crocodile tore 
through the tender flesh there came a piteous bellow, and 


jets of blood spurted from the buck's wounds and dyed the 

water red. 

Quick as a flash the released animal leaped away, and as 
he did so the ugly head of the baffled reptile shot out of the 
water, and the gaping jaws gnashed twice before my bullet 
crashed through his skull into his brain. 

With the help of the porters who had followed us we 
dragged the crocodile out of the water. When we laid him 
out on the grass I took his measurements. He seemed colos- 
sal at the time twelve feet, ten inches from the end of his 
ugly snout to the tip of his tail, but it was my first meeting 
with crocodiles. 

The curious and most interesting thing about the incident 
was the fact that the crocodile was a traveler, for the pool 
was over a mile away from his native home in the Tana 
River. The only logical solution Mr. Akeley or I could ad- 
vance for the phenomenon was that during the heavy rains 
when the Athi overflowed its banks and flooded the low 
country the crocodile must have come out on the plains. 
When the water receded he remained in the pool to feed on 
the antelope that came to quench their thirst. That many 
animals fell victims to his rapacious appetite was evidenced 
when we raked the pool with sticks and found the skulls 
and horns of several large animals. In his stomach we 
found some of their hoofs and an interesting collection of 
stones, which had been worn smooth, no doubt by the power- 
ful digestive fluids (which can dissolve the bones of ani- 
mals) and by constant grinding. 

It is said that birds also form part of the crocodile's diet. 
True as this may be, we failed to find any evidence in the 


large number of crocodiles which we dissected on our vari- 
ous expeditions. 

It is a common sight, however, to see exquisite tropic 
birds hobnobbing with crocodiles. As the great reptiles lie 
motionless on the sand bars, with jaws open and teeth ex- 
posed, looking for all the world like some fantastic gar- 
goyle carved in stone, the dainty feathered creatures perch 
on their backs and walk around their bodies searching for 
the big, fat gray ticks (the size of a five-cent piece) which 
bury their heads in the crocodile's flesh and dangle loosely 
from his body, like big imitation pearls from a fashionable 
woman's ears. 

The birds always approach the gaping jaws of the sleep- 
ing monsters with great caution, as if they were fearful that 
their presence would disturb their slumber. Cocking their 
heads first on one side and then on the other they peer down 
his throat like a doctor examining a patient. Sometimes, as 
if with a sense of grim humor, the crocodile closes his jaws 
with' a snap, and the startled bird leaps into the air with a 
comical, frightened squawk. If it happens to be a sound 
from the bank which has disturbed him, the crocodile rushes 
for the protection of the water. 

Curiosity usually brings him up again in a few moments. 
But the wary beast will lie quietly just beneath the surface 
of the water. Presently his eye-knobs and snout appear. 
These are slowly followed by his back line, which resembles 
a piece of floating wood. He submerges again if he is at 
all suspicious, and when he next appears it may be a hun- 
dred yards away up or down stream. 

The target^at such a distance is small indeed, for one must 



hit a crocodile In the brain to kill It Instantly. The dermal 
armor on his back Is so hard and tough that it will often 
deflect a bullet. Even though the bullet may penetrate the 
soft skin between the plates and enter the body, the croco- 
dile, with his amazing vitality, is still master of the situa- 
tion. He submerges Instantly, and a few days later the hunter 
may find the bloated carcass floating, belly up, a mile or 
two away from the scene of the wounding. Although 
crocodiles are universally feared and disliked, it is a poor 
sportsman indeed who will wantonly wound even a man- 
eater and leave it to die a slow, tortured death. 

Crossing a crocodile-Infested river is always an exciting 
event. In the old days when Mr. Akeley and I roamed over 
East Central Africa in search of natural-history specimens, 
we had many amusing and sometimes thrilling adventures 
with these pests. 

Usually it was necessary before permitting our porters to 
cross a river to blaze a passage by firing volley after volley 
Into the water, raking the shore line with our fire in order 
to drive the creatures from their hiding caves under the 
bank. Then an advance guard, carrying sticks, and yelling 
as only the African can, would enter the water. Forming 
a double line they would beat the water and shout while the 
burden bearers, singing lustily, passed safely between them. 

Some of our most anxious moments were when our porters 
were carrying the skins or the meat of freshly killed ani- 
mals. The odor seemed to penetrate the water and attract 
all the crocodiles in the vicinity. Sometimes they came up 
under cover of the dark brown water in numbers, but re- 
mained at a respectful distance watching us. Although they 









kept their bodies submerged, the telltale eye-knobs rising 
above the surface warned us of their presence. 

As I am very fearful of crocodiles, the terror of some of 
those crossings still lives in my memory one in particular, 
when in my haste to reach the other side I slipped on a rock 
in midstream and was swept off my feet by the strong cur- 
rent. Had it not been for the presence of mind and the 
agility of my gun bearer, who leaped forward and grabbed 
my clothing, I would have been swept away, perhaps to the 
very death which I so greatly feared. 

In my long and interesting association with authorities on 
the wild life of Africa, as well as some big-game hunters, I 
have listened to many interesting and amusing discussions in 
regard to the manner in which crocodiles attack their human 
prey. Some individuals were quite confident, although they 
could give no convincing proof, that the crocodile first 
strikes a powerful blow with the tail in order to knock his 
victim off his balance and sweep him into the water where 
he is at the crocodile's mercy. Others were equally certain 
that they only attack with their teeth, depending entirely on 
their agility and strength to confuse and drag down their 

Having witnessed one battle between a crocodile and his 
prospective meal, and being somewhat familiar with the 
anatomy of the beast, I was "skeptical about the tail method 
of attack. 

After listening to many interesting little controversies, I 
made it a habit, whenever we camped near a river, to spend 
as much time as I could spare from my work watching them. 
And I came to the conclusion that they attack with their teeth 



and depend on the strength of their tail, which has tremen- 
dous force and which is switched from side to side like light- 
ning while bracing themselves in the water to drag down 
their prey. Few African travelers care to spend their pre- 
cious time while in that fascinating country studying so 
unromantic a creature as the crocodile. The halo acquired 
by following the poor, persecuted lion, the buffalo, the 
rhinoceros, or the elephant is far more intriguing to the 
great majority. But I know of nothing more enlightening 
and fascinating than lying on the bank of an African river 
and watching the birds and beasts. 

For years I had longed to try an experiment with croco- 
diles, but one thing and another interfered with my plan 
until finally on my last expedition to Africa, when I was 
alone, I put into execution what I thought was a brilliant 

One day I shot an eland which I found grazing close to 
the river. Severing the hind quarters from the body I had 
my porters bind the legs firmly with ropes of lianas and 
then, carrying their burden to the river, we fastened it se- 
curely to the roots of a big tree, letting the dripping hunk of 
meat hang down so it would swing free just above the 
ground and close to the edge of the water. 

Then, accompanied by my gun bearer, I hastily concealed 
myself in some bushes where I had a clear view of the river 
and waited to see what would happen. Not wishing to lose 
a single movement of the crocodile, if by good fortune one 
appeared, I focused my field glasses on the spot where the 
meat hung. 

It did not seem to me that we had been in hiding more 



than five or six minutes when my boy touched my sleeve 
and whispered ff mamba hapa" (crocodile here) . The drip- 
ping meat had carried its message down even into the black, 
muddy depths, and the eye-knobs of hungry crocodiles began 
to appear on the surface of the sunlit water, like stars pop- 
ping out in a dark sky. They appeared and disappeared 
again and again, now here, now there, as with great caution 
and stealth they came closer to the meat. 

While we waited in smothering suspense a flock of Egyp- 
tian geese came winging their way down the river. Flying 
in the usual formation they skimmed the water with swift, 
graceful movements as they followed their leader. Sud- 
denly they swerved, and with a great rustling of wings 
settled on the beach not far from the bait. There they stood 
for a moment with lifted wings, and bills half open panting 
for breath in the hot sunlight. Then in a listening attitude 
they started across the hot sand toward the meat. Slowly 
they came, in single file, picking their way cautiously, stop- 
ping every other step to look and listen. 

Some small animal in the bushes must have startled them, 
for they suddenly gave a frightened honk, and, running en 
masse to the edge of the water, rose in the air, and with a 
honking that echoed loudly over the water continued their 
journey down the river. 

When the sound died away the peace and quiet of the 
jungle day again descended over the river. In the stifling 
heat of our blind I waited and wondered what jungle actor 
would next appear on our jungle stage. 

Suddenly I had my answer, for just below the bait a hor- 
rible and grotesque head shot out of the water, and just for 



an instant, through a shower of spray, I caught a glimpse 
of a double row of formidable-looking teeth as the cavernous 
mouth of a giant crocodile opened and closed on the bait. 
As he gripped the unyielding piece of meat he shook his 
ugly flat head like a vicious dog shaking a cat, and whipped 
the water violently with his tail as he pulled at the bait. 

Then there rose out of the water a few yards behind him 
another monster who catne with the speed of a motor boat 
to do battle for the prize. With wide-open jaws the new- 
comer rushed upon his rival. As his long, sharp teeth grazed 
the former's side he received a smashing blow from his 
adversary's powerful tail. 

In an instant the water was lashed white, and the strang^ 
est battle ever witnessed was being waged by these leftovers 
of a long-forgotten past, who fought madly with teeth and 

Round and round the terrible, bloodthirsty creatures went, 
diving and plunging and lunging at each other as they 
maneuvered for a death grip. Time after time their great 
jaws opened and crashed on empty space, and time after 
time their knife-edged teeth sank deep into the soft flesh 
just below the hard scales, causing them to open wide their 
mouths and snap viciously on empty air. 

While this reptilian battle raged I held my breath in in- 
tense interest in the outcome. Suddenly both crocodiles 
sank out of sight beneath the water, and all the eye-knobs 
which had dotted the surface vanished without leaving a 
ripple to tell that they had been there. Trembling with the 
excitement of the past few moments, I waited and wondered 
what had caused them to disappear so suddenly. Would 



they return, or had they gone down to the bottom of the 
river where no human eye could follow them? 

My unasked questions were presently answered when the 
bushes at the edge of the beach suddenly parted and a 
thin, wrinkled old Wandorobo man stepped into the sun- 
light. Peering hastily in every direction he finally hurried 
over to the bait and examined it carefully. Then cutting 
the vine with his knife, this human scavenger lowered the 
meat and helped himself to a piece of the raw flesh. 

Furious, my gun bearer started forward to drive him off, 
but I kept him back. I knew that the crocodiles would not 
return, at least for hours, and I was curious to see what 
the man would do with the bait. Finally he stooped and 
was struggling to lift the heavy thing on his back when my 
angry gun bearer, who could restrain himself no longer, 
shouted a threat. As the startled and terrified little man 
leaped to his feet and bolted for his life the meat rolled off 
the beach into the water, thus ending the first of my series 
of experiments. 

The casualties from crocodiles are greatest among the 
native women and children; and although these tragedies 
occur all too frequently in districts where crocodiles are 
numerous, the natives never seem to try to avoid them. They 
will enter the water to bathe, fill their water jars, or walk 
into a stream to wash their vegetables as casually as if they 
never heard of man-eating crocodiles. Consequently many 
of them pay the penalty with their lives. 

The great majority of natives wear special charms which 
they implicitly believe will protect them against the croco- 
diles. This with their fatalistic tendencies influences them 



in being reckless and foolhardy. Charms are highly recom- 
mended by the witch doctors, who thrive on the credulity of 
the superstitious natives. Like the pageantry of some of our 
own religious beliefs, for a price these wise men hold elab- 
orate ceremonies over the charms and anoint them with the 
blood of a live chicken and their own sacred spittle. 

From time to time the owners of charms must visit the 
witch doctor and contribute a substantial gift to have the 
powers of his charm rejuvenated. The life of a charm is as 
temperamental as the batteries of a radio set, and is renewed 
according to the wealth of the owner. In case of accident, 
if the wearer of a charm should be taken by a crocodile, 
the witch doctor exonerates himself and increases his trade 
by declaring that the owner failed to visit him and pay 
tribute to propitiate the fetish god. 

The teeth of crocodiles vary in shape and in number. In 
the Tana River specimens the teeth are conical and interlock 
like those of a powerful steel trap. The large canine teeth 
used to be in great demand by the natives, who converted 
them into very attractive snuffboxes and fetish containers, 
which are worn suspended by chains around the neck or 
dangling from a handsome belt decorated with beads and 
bright metal. 

The two globular throat glands which lie concealed in a 
pocket of skin close to the base of the crocodile's lower jaws 
are also greatly prized by the natives. Our porters often 
fought madly with one another to obtain possession of these 
organs. When a claim was established the owner became as 
Important as a man who corners the stock market. In fact 
he does, for the time being, control the native market for 



glands, and he can command almost any price for part or 
all of Ms treasure. 

These glands are similar to the face glands of certain 
antelope, but science is still in the dark regarding their 
functioning. In the crocodile the glands emit a powerful, 
nauseating odor which lingers, to rob one of his appetite 
and peace of mind, long after the offending objects have 
been removed. The native witch doctors mix the dense, 
greasy substance contained in the glands with other concoc- 
tions and use it for dowa (medicine) for their fetishes. 

Rapacious as crocodiles certainly are, they are denied the 
privilege of licking their chops after a meal of man or 
beast. Their thick, flat tongue is so fixed in the mouth that 
it cannot be protruded. The base of the tongue, however, 
can be raised to meet the soft palate and close the passage 
into the throat, thus enabling the beast to lie submerged in 
the water indefinitely, with only the nostrils exposed. 

Owing to the color of the soil, which in most parts of 
Africa is red, and the floating matter in the water, it is 
impossible to see for any depth below the surface of a 
river. Therefore the crocodile has every advantage. He 
can move rapidly below the surface without making a ripple, 
and when he attacks and tries to pull down an animal from 
the bank he uses his powerful tail as a brace, lashing it from 
side to side with lightning-like rapidity, thus keeping his 
equilibrium as effectively as if his feet were braced on terra 
firma. With tooth and tail he fights for his meal, and 
what takes place under the dark water at his banquets we 
can only surmise. 

When drifting lazily down stream with the current a 



crocodile might easily be mistaken for a piece of water- 
soaked wood. They have marvelous eyesight, and their 
hearing is very acute. The slightest sound will send them 
below the surface as quickly as a gunshot. 

The largest crocodile we secured on our several expedi- 
tions to Africa was one that I shot in the upper Tana River 
ia 1905. In an unbroken line from the tip of his snout to 
the tip of his tail he measured sixteen and a half feet. Com- 
paring his measurements with authentic records, he was an 
unusually large one. He was taken, however, before the 
Tana River Valley became the standardized route for big- 
game hunters, and the aged saurians a target for their guns. 

In East Africa I never met a native who would eat the 
flesh of the crocodile. But on my recent visit to the Belgian 
Congo I was told by the officials that it was against the law 
for travelers to shoot these reptiles. They were conserved 
by the government to feed the native prisoners and laborers. 

As is true of the wags among our Western cowboys, noth- 
ing delights an old Afrikander more than an opportunity to 
regale some credulous traveler with exaggerated stories of 
the natives and wild animals. Over the coffee cups at many 
a jungle dinner party I have listened to hair-raising stories 
of wild and wicked witch doctors, blood-brotherhood cere- 
monies, and man-eating crocodiles, twenty and twenty-two 
feet long, that entered native huts, like thieves in the night, 
to carry away some sleeping member of a household. Some 
of those stories have become African classics and have found 
their way into print. And some of the story-tellers have 
actually paid tribute with their lives to the very animals 
they romanced about. 



On several occasions when Mr. Akeley and I were dis- 
secting crocodiles which we had shot, we found strange ob- 
jects such as stones, the hoofs of small antelope, great wads 
of hair, and large pieces of turtle shell in their stomachs* 
Some of these shell plates had a razor-like edge, no doubt 
caused by the constant friction or grinding movement of 
digestion against the stones. 

As some of the tropical river turtles grow to a considerable 
size, and their plates are as hard as steel, I often pondered 
over the way the crocodile managed to break them and get 
the meat. Every authority I consulted on the subject insisted 
that the crocodile crushed the turtle between his powerful 
jaws. This I knew to be a fact where the small turtles were 
concerned, for I had once seen a crocodile munching a 
turtle the size of a dinner plate. But I was skeptical about 
the large ones. 

On my last expedition to the upper Tana River in 1925, 
my question was answered In a very dramatic way by the 
crocodile himself. 

In company with my friend, Mrs. Leslie J. Tarlton of 
Nairobi, I had returned to the upper Tana River Valley to 
execute a cabled commission for an American museum. 
Having no other white people with us, we decided to follow 
the dictates of our own hearts and make a holiday of our 
little excursion by camping for a couple of weeks in a lovely 
spot we had found close to the river. 

One day, shortly after breakfast, Mrs. Tarlton started out 
with her gun bearer to get meat for the porters, and, ac- 
companied by my own gun' boy, I went down the river a 
little way where I could sit close to the water's edge, be- 



neath some overhanging bushes, and watch the monkeys that 
frequented the trees along the bank. 

As we descended to our hiding place on the sandy shore 
there was a great splashing in the water, and innumerable 
crocodiles of varying sizes slid off the rocks which rose 
above the shallow water. As soon as we had settled down 
they crawled cautiously back to bask in the sunlight. Mak- 
ing myself comfortable I adjusted my field glasses, bringing 
the crocodiles closer so that I would not miss a turn of their 
ugly heads. 

The intense heat and the silence of the place soon sent 
my black attendant, whom I had taken with me to guard 
against, being surprised by a lion or a leopard, to the land 
of dreams, and I was left to watch alone. 

After a time a troop of rowdy little monkeys came romp- 
Ing over the tops of the acacia trees. Not long after they 
had passed, a thieving monitor lizard scurried across the 
sand bar with a crocodile's egg in its mouth. The next move- 
ment that caught my eye and suggested a hasty retreat was 
a big water python that came gliding gracefully through 
the water in our direction. A movement toward my gun 
caused it to change its course swiftly, and just as it swung 
its long, sinuous body around and passed under a fallen 
tree which extended well out over die stream, there came 
a tremendous splashing from the deep pool on my right. 
Rising cautiously and peering through the branches I was 
amazed to see a monster crocodile rolling over and over, 
churning the water into foam and sending the wavelets 
rippling and dancing in all directions. 

But that was not all. Gripped tight in his powerful jaws 



was the front foot of a huge turtle. With each lightning- 
like revolution of the monster's body the turtle, which must 
have weighed at least forty or fifty pounds, was swung clear 
of the water. So fast did the crocodile turn that the water 
seemed to remain parted in the path of the turtle. 

Presently the crock swam to a rocky ledge on the edge of 
the pool and, dragging the turtle with him, crawled out and 
rested the upper half of his body on the stone. After a 
short interval he slid backward into deep water, dragging 
the struggling turtle after him, and began the dizzying 
revolving movements again. 

Just at that critical moment the boy beside me stirred, and 
I quickly placed my foot upon his body to keep him quiet. 
As I did so the crocodile submerged, and, hidden though we 
were behind our screen of leaves, I feared he had detected 
our presence. Anxiously my eyes searched the water in all 
directions, and presently I caught sight of him just for a 
second as he crossed a shallow spot in midstream. Then he 
disappeared again. Mrs. Tarlton arrived on the scene at 
that moment, and I quickly dragged her down beside me, 
fearful that her coming might have driven him away. Ap- 
parently he had not seen or heard her, for I had only time 
to whisper in her ear, "Sit tight and watch the opposite 
shore/* when he rose like a submarine close to the bank and 
repeated his jiu-jitsu operations on the turtle. This time so 
fast did he rotate his body that he seemed hardly to touch 
the water. 

Suddenly we saw the turtle shoot through the air and land 
with a resounding whack and crushing force against the 
wall of rock which formed the opposite bank. As it fell 



into the water, the crocodile, with a flip of his tail, dived 
after it. In a moment the ugly head was again thrust above 
the water. The great jaws with their fearful rows of teeth 
opened and crashed like a sprung trap over a great hunk of 
turtle meat. Again and again he dived and returned to the 
surface to crunch and swallow a piece of his meal. 

He was a huge creature and an easy target for our guns, 
for, as he fed, the vulnerable spot on his head was exposed. 
But Mrs. Tarlton and I agreed that he had earned the right 
to live by not only providing entertainment for us, but by 
indirectly making an important contribution to science 
through his remarkable performance. 

It is a curious fact, and one that is well worth a thorough 
investigation, that in some of the African rivers there are 
definite stretches where the crocodiles are practically harm- 
less. For instance, during my ten weeks' journey ia dugout 
canoes up the lower Tana River in 1925 I saw and shot 
many crocodiles. Yet the Wafocomo natives living along 
the bank are as fond of the water as South Sea Islanders. 
They enter the river a dozen times each day to bathe. In 
fact, I often organized aquatic sports, offering prizes for the 
best swimmers. The natives played water polo with pieces 
of wood, cork-like in substance, and they often remained 
in the water playing this game for hours. They assured me 
that they had no fear of the crocodiles. The men who 
poled my canoes upstream asked frequently during a day's 
journey for permission to stop the boats so that they might 
have a refreshing swim. But on the upper reaches of that 
same river the crocodiles are verv rapacious and attack both 
man and beast. 



Of the two fatalities which occurred in the ranks of our 
black followers on our expedition of 1909-1911 one was 
caused by a crocodile. 

We had journeyed across from Mt. Kenya to the upper 
Tana Biver for the sole purpose of giving J. T. Jr., a little 
monkey of which we had become very fond, her freedom. 
We wanted to return her to her home in the treetops in the 
exact spot where we found her a year before. Mr. Akeley, 
who was still somewhat of an invalid owing to an encoun- 
ter with an enraged elephant, wanted to remain in the 
vicinity of the river for a time to rest. 

One day when we were walking along the bank, returning 
to camp from a little hunting excursion, Mr. Akeley shot a 
huge crocodile which was asleep on the opposite shore. 

"Without consulting us, two of our porters, eager to receive 
the reward which they hoped Mr. Akeley would give them 
for what seemed to them a worthy prize, challenged one 
another to a race across the stream to retrieve the monster. 
We heard their excited discussion, but being used to their 
chatter paid no attention to them. It had never occurred 
to us that any one would be foolhardy enough to enter the 
crocodile-infested river at this point. 

Before we realized what was happening, the two actors in 
the terrible tragedy had cast off their scanty covering, 
and, with laughter on their lips and a yell of enthusiasm, 
plunged in. 

Horrified, we shouted frantic commands for them to re- 
turn, but our words were lost in a babble of madly excited 
voices. It was a sporting event for the porters on the bank. 
Each man had wagered all he possessed on his favorite, 



and without regard for us was wildly cheering the swim- 
mers on. 

Mr, Akeley, concerned only with the safety of the boys, 
made a few swift turns on the bank and vehemently voiced 
Ms opinion of savages, while I stood with our dusky fol- 
lowers and urged the two reckless swimmers to greater 
effort, hoping that speed might be their safeguard. The 
river was deep and the current fairly swift at this point, 
but not more than one hundred yards across. One of the 
men, who was husky and a strong swimmer, soon reached 
the opposite bank, and climbing up straddled the dead 
crocodile. Wildly elated over his victory, the boy slapped 
the back of the monster with his hand, and with good- 
natured native wit shouted facetious encouragement to his 
less fortunate companion, who was exerting the utmost of 
his strength and skill in his effort to reach the shore. 
^ Although we had given them all the protection we could 
by shooting into the water, when the swimmer neared the 
goal we suddenly, to our horror, saw him throw up his 
hands, clutch wildly at the air, and with a haunting, blood- 
curdling shriek that ended in a gurgle, disappear beneath 
the water* 

It all happened in an instant, and even before we could 
lower our guns the swiftly flowing water had glided over 
the spot where the boy went down, leaving not so much as a 
ripple to tell that the owner of the voice, which was still 
echoing weirdly on the air, had been swept into eternity. 

Mute from the shock of the appalling tragedy, we stood 
for a second on the bank with our dusky followers and 



gazed at the spot where a moment before the boy had been. 
Then, prompted by the same thought, we showered the 
water In all directions with stones, hoping that the croco- 
dile might be frightened and relinquish his hold on Ms 
victim. But he was past all human skill or effort. Only 
the tiny wavelets caused by the stones striking the water 
broke the glassy surface of the gliding stream, and they 
seemed to mock us as they danced merrily for an instant 
and were gone. 

Although we were thoroughly familiar with the ways of 
crocodiles, and knew in our hearts that the boy was past 
all human aid, we could not give up hope. We sent men up 
and down the river to patrol the shore, and tried to comfort 
each other by saying a miracle might happen and the boy 
escape from the grip of the terrible creature and be saved. 

Then the problem of rescuing the boy on the opposite 
bank and averting another tragedy presented itself. Heart- 
sick we stood and debated. There were no dugout canoes 
on the upper Tana. Therefore a raft seemed to be the only 
solution to our problem. This would take time, and if 
darkness fell before our task was accomplished the boy 
would be in danger from lions and leopards. 

Suddenly I had an inspiration, and suggested that we send 
a boy to camp for my canvas bathtub and convert it into a 
boat. This seemed feasible, so Mr. Akeley gave the neces- 
sary instructions. 

The placidity with which the object of our anxiety sat on 
the opposite bank and dangled his feet in the crocodile- 
infested water and watched our frantic efforts in behalf of 



himself and his unfortunate companion was unnerving. We 
could not make up our minds whether the boy was an 
utter imbecile or bore a charmed life. 

We were suddenly forced, however, to believe the latter, 
for just as Mr. Akeley had finished giving his instructions to 
the porters about cutting trees for our improvised boat the 
boy stood up, stretched his supple body, and bending down 
heaved the dead crocodile into the water. As the formidable- 
looking gray shape was caught by the current and swept out 
into the stream, to our great consternation the boy plunged 
headfirst after it. Ignoring our horrified cries to turn back, 
the reckless fellow with a few strong strokes reached the 
swiftly moving body of the monster, and guiding it with 
one hand he swam leisurely across the exact spot where his 
companion had so recently disappeared. To surround him 
with a barrage of bullets, which we instantly did, and pray 
for his safety was all we could do. 

With all a native's pride in being the center of attraction, 
the boy, as if to prolong his triumph and our agony, ignored 
our commands to pacy, pacy (hurry, hurry) and swam 
slower; deliberately he loosed his hold on the crocodile, 
every now and then letting it float with the current and 
catching up with it again to show his prowess. 

Although the actual crossing occupied only a few mo- 
ments, it seemed hours to us. 

When the boy finally touched the bank, Mr. Akeley, exas- 
perated almost beyond human endurance by his foolhardi- 
ness in the face of what had happened to his comrade and 
the bravado grin on his beaming face, lifted him bodily out 
of the water and shook him until his head bobbed about 



on Ms shoulders like a toy balloon In a stiff breeze. At the 
same time he denounced him in words justified by the occa- 
sion, but which, fortunately, no one but myself could 

When his anger was spent he released his hold on the 
boy. Then, to my surprise and somewhat to Mr. Akeley's 
chagrin, the boy stood before him; still smiling, and showing 
no resentment at his rough treatment, he pointed proudly 
to his fetishes a number of tiny antelope horns, packed 
with a mixture known only to the witch doctor, which de- 
pended from a leather thong about his waist. Quite calmly 
he assured him that he was safe from the crocodiles when 
he wore his dowa (medicine) . 

The boy's faith in those charms was truly awe-inspiring. 
I was thoroughly convinced then and there that the white 
man who ridicules and condemns the beliefs of primitive 
peoples without a thorough knowledge of them, which no 
white man can ever obtain, is a narrow-minded bigot. For 
in our cocksure, you-will-be-damned-if-you-don*t-believe-as- 
I-do sort of way we are trying to destroy a sublime faith, 
and rob primitive man of something that is very precious and 
sustaining to his happiness and mode of life, something that 
is lost to higher civilization and quite beyond our under- 

I must add, to justify my sincerity in the above statement, 
that this very same boy gave us ample proof later of his 
supreme faith in his charms, and also of a power beyond 
our comprehension which kept him immune from the man- 
eating crocodiles. Time after time during our stay on the 
Tana he entered the water to swim. He did not hesitate to 



cross the river to sand bars where a few moments before the 
crocodiles had flopped off the bar like a school of startled 

When the porters that had been left to patrol the river 
returned at sundown without finding any trace of the missing 
boy the gloom of tragedy settled over our camp. We now 
knew that all that was left for us to do was to report the 
unfortunate affair to the nearest government official at Fort 
Hall, and make what restitution we could to the boy's 

No doubt but that when the crocodile dragged the boy 
under the water he made straight for one of the great holes, 
or breathing caves, under the bank where he could deposit 
his burden and remain indefinitely to feed at his leisure 
upon his victim. 

Shortly after dinner that night Mr. Akeley suffered a 
sudden chill, and hastily retired to his cot. Still an invalid, 
the shock of the tragedy affected his nerves and left him in 
no condition to resist the sudden attack of his old enemy, 

Despite the suffocating heat of the breathless night, it 
required two hot-water bottles, all the blankets we possessed, 
and several cups of scalding hot tea to lessen his temperature 
and stop the chattering of his teeth. 

When he finally dozed I left his side and kept my vigil 
just outside the door of his tent. Below me, under some 
flat-topped acacia trees, the men were grouped around their 
little fires, eating their one meal of the day and discussing 
the tragedy. 

At first, with thoughtful consideration for Mr. Akeley, 



they spoke in subdued voices. They went over every phase 
of the accident from the joyful beginning to the unhappy 

They wondered if we would give a sum of money to the 
boy's relatives; whether we would send a barua (letter) to 
the official at Fort Hall, the nearest government post, or wait 
until we reached Nairobi and make our report to the Bawna 
Makuba (Governor). 

With the frankness of medical students discussing a grue- 
some problem in a classroom, each men expressed his 
opinion in words and gestures of what part of their late 
comrade's anatomy they thought the crocodile would attack 
and devour first. 

As they talked they feasted, and the rosy glow from their 
fires illuminated their shining bodies and animated black 

It would be a strange group of natives indeed that could 
not find something or some one to caricature even on the 
most solemn or tragic occasion. Almost all the African 
natives are born mimics and they are at their very best when 
rehearsing some harrowing accident a murder or a violent 

In the large caravans which it was necessary for us to 
have, owing to the nature of our scientific work in Africa, 
we had many clever actors, comedians as well as tragedians. 
But of them all none could compare with the big Swahili 
boy who on this occasion stood in the firelight under the 
canopy of acacia branches and with savage humor burlesqued 
the unhappy tragedy. 

He portrayed the shooting of the crocodile; the betting 



on the race and the excited men as they plunged into the 
river. He pictured Mr. Akeley's towering rage when he 
shook the boy. No detail was forgotten. He had caught the 
droop of Mr. Akeley's shoulders as he paced back and forth 
on the river bank, the movement of his hands as well as the 
rush of unintelligible words which flowed from his lips as 
he shook the reckless and disobedient swimmer. 

As the actor went through his performance he exag- 
gerated with artistic license whenever he thought it was 
necessary; and his dusky audience of eighty eager men 
slapped one another on their bare black backs and rocked 
with laughter. 

With great versatility he assumed each character in the 
depressing tragedy, switching from one to the other with 
an ease and an emphasis that was truly admirable. 

With true dramatic instinct for a thrilling climax, he 
reserved the death scene for the final curtain, giving with 
haunting realism his own version of what happened to the 
boy when the crocodile dragged him under the water. As 
he pictured the swimmer's last moments he edged away from 
the firelight. Then suddenly he gave a horrible, gurgling 
cry, clawed the air exactly as the boy had done, and leaped 
back out of the firelight. But quick as a flash he was back 
again, gnashing his teeth and swinging his body to imitate 
the ravenous crocodile tearing his victim to pieces. 

This barbarous and terribly realistic bit of acting delighted 
his primitive audience. With savage abandon some of the 
men lay back on the ground and laughed and pounded the 
earth with their heels, until in sheer desperation I shouted, 
"basi kelele" (cease making a noise) . Then, still laughing, 



they covered their heads with their blankets and went to 
sleep on the sun-baked earth beside their fires as if nothing 
had happened, while I entered the tent and, sitting beside 
Mr. Akeley's cot, listened throughout the night to the mut- 
terings of his fever-tortured brain. 



LAKE HANNINGTON, the home of the African flamingo, 
is one of a chain of crater lakes, Baringo, Nakuru, Naivasha, 
and Elementita which dot the floor of the great Rift Valley 
in East Central Africa. 

Hannington, the least known lake in the chain, is an irreg- 
ular body of water, about eight miles long and two miles 
across at its widest point, and lies concealed in a deep trench 
or secondary rift under the Laikepia Escarpment. Owing 
to its close proximity to the equator this depression is, per- 
haps, one of the very hottest spots on the African continent. 
Only twice a year, during the rainy seasons, does a refresh- 
ing breeze find its way into this stifling inferno. 

Because of its isolated position under the wall of the 
escarpment and the difficult nature of the surrounding coun- 
try, Hannington was overlooked by the early explorers. 
Therefore it was the last lake in the chain to be discovered, 
and the mighty bird colony their extensive community 
nursery with its enormous number of curiously shaped nests 
was long in being revealed. 

When Mr. Akeley and I were in Africa, in 1905, we 
learned of the existence of the flamingo colony and planned 
an expedition to Hannington. But a prolonged elephant 
hunt on Mt. Kenya and the great distance to be traversed on 



foot before reaching the lake caused us to abandon our plan. 
Our interest in the feathered colony, however, did not wane. 
So when we went to Africa again, a few years later, we went 
equipped with a motion-picture camera and an ambition 
to secure permanent records of the birds when they were 

Shortly after our arrival in Africa we traveled to the 
Uasin Gishu Plateau, the high tableland which forms part 
of the western boundary of the Rift Valley, to meet and 
hunt with ex-President Roosevelt. Finding ourselves di- 
rectly west of Lake Hannington when the hunt was over and 
within a week's march of it, we decided to take advantage 
of the situation and trek across country to our long dreamed- 
of goaL 

We had heard that the historical old slave trail which 
winds through the Rift Valley would lead us directly to the 
north end of Lake Hannington, and we planned to follow 
this path when we reached it. But our propensity for ex- 
ploring and a glimpse of the lake through the heat haze 
from the top of a high ridge prompted us to take what we 
believed was a short cut to the southern end of it. 

This was more difficult than we had anticipated. Al- 
though the distance, as the crow flies, between the trail and 
the lake was not very great, a dense, gray thorn-scrub jungle 
impeded our progress. Without giving protection from the 
burning sun the bushes rose up on all sides and obscured our 
vision. They were so dense in places that we were obliged 
to halt the caravan while a passage large enough to accom- 
modate our horses was hacked through the thorn-covered 
vines which bound the bushes together as effectively as any 



barbed-wire entanglements. And as If to punish us for 
not taking the easier way, the needle-sharp tips of aloe plants 
penetrated our puttees and wait-a-bit thorns caught in our 
clothing and raked our flesh until we felt as if the claws 
of a thousand wildcats were attacking us. 

The lower regions of tradition can hold nothing in the 
way of suffering to equal those hours of tortuous travel 
across that rock-strewn, thorn-scrub area. We might have 
been walking between the doors of open furnaces, for the 
direct rays of the equatorial sun beat down upon us from 
above and the lava rock radiated heat from below. It rose 
in shimmering waves and danced around us like the heat of 
a living flame. 

To avoid the grilling task of cutting the bush we detoured 
whenever we could. We only went, however, from the 
frying pan into the fire, for the sharp lava rock cut our 
heavy elk skin boots to ribbons and brought pathetic groans 
from the poor porters who struggled bravely under the 
weight of their heavy burdens. 

Finally, thinking we had mistaken a mirage for a lake, 
we were about to turn back when Abdi, the headman, who 
was in advance of the caravan, discovered a stream of fresh 
water and shouted the good news to the porters. With one 
accord they threw down their burdens and raced like mad- 
men to quench their thirsts. Some of them even divested 
themselves of their tattered garments, and lying down in the 
water went fast asleep. 

We decided to go no farther and Mr. Akeley gave the 
orders for the tents to be pitched under the acacia trees 
close to the stream. When looking for a site among the 



rocks for the kitchen the cook discovered a spring of boiling 
water which he appropriated for his own use amid much 
good-natured banter. A few moments later one of the tent 
boys discovered another spring, and this one, to our delight, 
was crystal clear and surprisingly cold. 

Late in the afternoon, when the sun had lost some of its 
fierceness, we walked out and climbed to the top of a rocky 
ridge, which cut off our view of the lake, in the hope of 
getting a glimpse of the birds. 

I remember few experiences in Africa more thrilling than 
when we reached the top of those rocks. The stifling heat 
and our heart-breaking journey of the morning were for- 
gotten in the beautiful sight which promised success and 
made up for everything. 

Front our elevated position we got a magnificent view of 
almost the entire lake, which lay, as it had probably lain for 
untold centuries, like a highly polished mirror imprisoned 
between the high, dark walls of the escarpment on the east 
and a sweep of gray-green thorn jungle on the west. 

Well out in the lake, islands of rosy pink birds dotted 
the mirrored surface of the blue-green water; a wide border 
of solid pink marked the eastern shore line as far as we 
could see; points and peninsulas of pink extended nearly to 
the center of the lake. Pink birds, with widespread wings, 
drifted over the lake like shifting pink clouds and cast 
changing reflections on the placid surface of the water. 

Just below us, at the southern end, the gaunt, bleached 
limbs of ancient trees rose above the water, giving mute 
evidence that before the titanic upheaval which split the 
eastern central half of the African continent and left a fis- 



sure over forty miles wide and in places over two thousand 
feet deep a forest covered that part of the country. Al- 
though these trees belong to a forgotten past, their withered 
arms rising pathetically heavenward are still a haven for the 
birds of the air, and are the favorite roosting place for storks, 
herons, ibises, egrets, kingfishers, and eagles. 

Through field glasses we could see clouds of steam rising 
from the boiling springs, steam vents, and immature geysers 
which border the western shore of the lake, and windrows 
of sun-bleached feathers decorated the beach and gleamed 
white in the sunshine. 

Just below us a number of ugly crocodiles were hosts to 
myriads of lovely shore birds. Fearlessly the alert and eager 
creatures ran over the reptiles' inert bodies and around their 
gaping mouths after the insects which were attracted by the 
odor of these evil-smelling beasts. A family of hippos, with 
hides white as the pebbles they rested upon, slept peacefully 
on the beach beside them, their fat hind quarters half -buried 
in the water. 

The hippos were so small and so light in color that at 
first we thought we had discovered a new species of pygmy 
hippo. When we shot one a little later for food for our 
porters we found that the animal's legs and belly were 
albino pink and his back was covered with a mottled pattern 
of the same unhealthy-looking color. The flesh was soft 
and tough, with the consistency of rubber, and had a most 
unpleasant odor, which our black followers seemed to 
thoroughly enjoy. 

We finally came to the conclusion that this remarkable 
phenomenon was the result of the extreme temperature of 




the lake, which is partially fed by boiling springs, and the 
action of the sun on some chemical, sulphur perhaps, con- 
tained in the water. 

We breakfasted long before daybreak the following morn- 
ing, and when the first hint of dawn relieved the inky black- 
ness of the sky Mr. Akeley and our companion, Mr. Fred 
Stephenson, armed with guns and cameras, set out along the 
wall of the escarpment, expecting to find the birds where 
we had seen them on the previous day. Accompanied by 
Askar, my Somali gun bearer, and a few porters, I followed 
the open beach along the western shore to inspect the geysers 
and steam vents. 

Early as it was, the stones over which we walked were 
painfully hot to the barefooted porters. ({ Moto sana, moto 
sana 33 (very hot, very hot) was the cry that rang in my ears 
as the men grasshoppered hastily from one hot stone to 
another. Indeed I was quite willing to agree with the 
scientists who say that the thinnest part of the earth's surface 
runs through the Rift Valley, for the heat was so intense 
that it gave me the uncanny feeling that at almost any 
moment we might break through and land in a seething 
sea of fire. 

As I walked along my heavy shoes disturbed the pebbles 
and exposed miniature streams of hot water, gliding snakily 
under their covering of stones through well-worn channels 
to mingle with the water of the big lake. 

All along the beach, close to the water's edge, we found 
springs of boiling water, bubbling and steaming like a kettle 
on a hot stove. We came across innumerable baby geysers, 
and the stones within a radius of several feet were worn 



smooth by the action of the water. They were so hot that 
they actually burned my fingers when I touched them. With 
watch in hand I timed the rise and fall of some o the 
largest geysers, and found that at intervals of from three 
to five minutes the underground pressure sent the scalding 
mud and water sputtering and spouting several feet in the 

One of the porters put a piece of meat on a sharpened 
stick and cooked it in the water while we watched. We 
threw sticks, leaves, and feathers into the rocky caldron, and 
the porters had great fun guessing where they would land 
when the upheaval sent them sailing skyward. We tried to 
plug up steam vents, and our efforts sent the hot vapor 
hissing over the stones like angry serpents. 

Finally, after loitering along and thoroughly enjoying our- 
selves, we came to a strip of dense thorn bush that reached 
to the water's edge and cut off our view of the lake beyond. 
Lying flat on the ground we wormed our way beneath the 
vine-entangled obstructions. This mode of travel is grilling 
work, especially in a tropical forest where it is hot and the 
thorns are vicious. Therefore, just before reaching the other 
side I stood up in an open place to stretch my aching 
muscles. Suddenly, while my hands were raised above my 
head, I heard a peculiar hissing noise. Although I was 
familiar with the sound, having heard it many times on our 
first expedition while collecting water birds around Lake 
Elementita and Lake Naivasha, I turned inquiringly to my 
boys for confirmation, and almost in chorus they whispered, 
"endege menge" (many birds) . 

With all possible speed we crept forward to the edge o 



the bush and the sight which greeted us caused me to hold 
my breath in sheer ecstasy. There before us, with the daz- 
zling sunshine playing over their bodies, enhancing and 
dulling the colors, were acres of beautiful pink birds. There 
must have been at least a million feathered creatures in 
that vast assembly, for the entire colony had, during the 
night, moved over to the western shore and were now noisily 
feeding on the tiny Crustacea which thrive in the mud on 
the floor of this volcanic lake. 

With business-like persistence they dredged for food; 
balancing their uptiited bodies with long, gently waving 
legs, they thrust their heads beneath the water and scooped 
up the mud with inverted bills. Quickly righting themselves, 
they brought their find to the surface. Still holding their 
bills in an inverted position, they washed the dirt from their 
food with a hissing, swishing sound before raising their 
heads high in the air and gulping it down, 

It was quite evident that some of the birds were doing 
sentinel duty while the others fed. This precaution is char- 
acteristic of all the African birds or animals that live in 
large flocks or herds. As these guards stood alert and watch- 
ful in a sea of reversing pink bodies, their big purple and 
scarlet bills, topping their long slender necks, looked like 
the buds of some strange tropical plant ready to burst into 

Two species of flamingo were represented in the feathered 
multitude. The small and more brilliantly colored Phoeni- 
coptems minor was in the majority, although the larger 
species, Phoenicoptems roseus, was well represented by both 
immature and adult birds. 



Lying with elbows resting on the ground, I watched the 
amazing scene through focused glasses. My pleasure was 
tempered, however, by thoughts of Mr. Akeley's disappoint- 
ment and his fatiguing journey along the bush-covered wall 
of the eastern shore. 

How long I remained in my uncomfortable position on 
the ground I do not know. But suddenly one of the por- 
ters, who had fallen asleep, startled us all by giving a loud 
sneeze that went echoing around the lake. 

Instantly the watching sentinels sounded the alarm by 
uttering a loud "kronk, kronk." Like a vast number of ath- 
letes performing in unison, the feeding birds righted their 
bodies. Craning their necks and cocking their heads at a 
ridiculous angle, the brilliant assemblage listened intently 
for a few seconds. Then as if the sea of pink had been 
rocked by a gentle wave, the birds began to move and flip 
their wings. With absurd dignity those on the outskirts 
began to strut leisurely back and forth. Stepping high, 
they perked their heads, drooped their wings, and slowly 
swayed their glistening bodies from side to side like 
mannequins displaying the latest modes at a fashion 

They seemed to have no sense of the direction of the dan- 
ger, however, and after milling and strutting about in an 
effort to locate the cause of the excitement their agitation 

Before settling down and resuming their feeding each 
bird took a cautious last look around. Then apparently 
satisfied, they gave forth a subdued guttural "kronk" before 
thrusting their. heads beneath the surface of the water. It 



was not until they had all settled down that I realized, with 
a pang, that I had forgotten all about taking a picture. 

Eager though I was to secure records of the wonderful 
sight, I waited until they were quiet again. Then rising 
from the ground and brushing the ants off my clothing, I 
made a few shots from the shelter of the bush. The click 
of the shutter did not seem to disturb them, so I walked 
deliberately out on the beach in full view of the birds and 
made another picture. 

The sentinels saw me at once, and immediately sounded 
the alarm. This time it was not a "kronk, kronk" of suspicion, 
but a deep, sharp, unmistakable "kronk, kronk, kronk" of 
command. Instantly answering "kronks" came from a million 
pink throats, and two million pink and black wings flashed 
in the air and crashed against wings as the seething mass of 
startled birds crowded one another in an effort to rise from 
the water. 

As they milled about, kronking and hissing and beating 
their wings against one another, the noise was deafening. 
And as their feet churned the foul mud on the floor of the 
lake a sickening, almost overpowering stench rose from the 
water. The nauseating odor drenched the stifling hot 
atmosphere. It clung to our nostrils and got into our 
mouths; the porters spat on the ground in an effort to 
find relief. 

Only the birds on the outskirts had room enough to get 
the running start necessary to raise their weight in the air, 
but one followed the other in rapid succession. As they 
rose in their stupendous numbers the thunder of their wings, 
mingled with their incredible hissing and kronking, was 


like the roar of a tropical hurricane, and the sound was 
heard by some of our boys over a mile away. 

By the time the last bird had risen from the water the 
first ones had recovered from their fright and were settling 
in midlake. Presently I noticed that the main body of birds 
was drifting slowly in our direction. With camera in readi- 
ness, I sat down in the shadow of an acacia tree at the edge 
of the bush to watch and wait, hoping and praying that the 
birds would return to their feeding ground. 

The heat was terrific and the delicate leaves on the acacia 
tree under which I sat were little protection against the 
smiting rays of the sun. While my temples throbbed and 
the perspiration oozed from every pore and drenched my 
garments, the porters slept peacefully. 

There was hardly a sound to break the silence, save 
when the grunting bellow of a hippo rolled across the 
water, or when one of the feathered marshals flanking the 
oncoming multitude of birds kronked a command. Rarely 
indeed had the peace of these birds been disturbed by the 
intrusion of human beings, and as I sat and watched their 
approach I shuddered to think of their fate when the record- 
breaking game hunters from America, with the first-person 
complex, found them out. 

In about an hour most of the birds had returned and were 
busily kronking and gossiping with one another in bird 
fashion. As they bobbed their heads and shifted their posi- 
tions the sunlight played over their shimmering feathers and 
changed the colors. Some of them showed great curiosity 
and came close to the shore. Caution ruled their movements, 
however, for as they came slowly toward me they stopped 



frequently to stretch their necks and code their heads to 
look and listen. 

Twenty-four times my grafiex clicked that afternoon and 
still the friendly creatures were not frightened. When I had 
finally exposed all my plates, and it was time to make our 
way back to camp, we walked right down to the water's 
edge, expecting that the birds would repeat the glorious 
spectacle of the morning. To my surprise and delight they 
only jostled one another, craned thek necks, hissed, and 
bobbed their heads as if in friendly greeting. 

I know of no other bird on the African continent that will 
delight the eye of the traveler or lend itself to the camera 
or brush of an artist more effectively than the flamingo. 
Their plumage is exquisitely beautiful. The long neck and 
body feathers of an adult bird shade from a pale pink to a 
rosy hue. The curiously shaped beak is scarlet and purple, 
and the long slender legs, which seem so inadequate for the 
weight of the excessively fat body, are deep pink with a 
blending of purple and scarlet. This remarkable coloring 
penetrates even the bones and the marrow of the legs. The 
feathers under their black-pinioned wings are crimson, and 
the same lovely color tips the wing coverts on the upper side 
of the wings. 

There is a great contrast between the adult and the young 
birds. The latter are a grayish white, which changes to pink 
as the bird matures. 

Like ducks and geese, the flamingo are extremely clan- 
nish, and congregate in immense flocks. They often form 
into units and follow a leader on a tour of the neighboring 



At Lake Elementita, and also at Lake Naivasha, where we 
spent several months in 1905-1906, one of my chief interests 
was watching the arrival and departure of the feathered 

I soon learned that large flocks of young flamingos were 
being piloted on these tours by a number of older birds, and, 
judging from the way they remained together at these stop- 
over stations, their leaders were as conscientious and careful 
of their charge as councilors of a Boy or Girl Scout organi- 
zation could possibly be. Although the young birds seemed 
very restless and were constantly rising from the water, as 
if trying their wings, they never left the main flock. 

Their food consists of minute particles of animal matter 
found in the mud on the bottom of the lakes. When feeding 
they thrust their large, curved beak, upside down, into the 
mud and scoop up both dirt and food like an excavating 
shovel. Still holding the bill upside down they bring it to 
the surface, and, with a loud hissing sound, swish it through 
the water to separate the mud from their food, through a 
sieve-like arrangement on the side of the bill. 

There is nothing in the bird world more ludicrous than a 
flock of frightened flamingos. They kronk and hiss and 
crowd one another like a panicky mob of human beings. 
When preparing for flight their ungainly movements remind 
one of an overloaded aeroplane trying to take off on a 
rough field. Stretching their long necks in front of them 
they beat the water with their wings as they gallop clumsily 
for a short distance over the mud. When they have gained 
sufficient momentum to raise their weight in the air, the neck 
and legs are quickly thrust out in a straight line with the 



body. It Is then, when their black pinions are spread, that 
the crimson wing feathers are exposed and flash in the sun- 
light with each graceful sweep of their wings. 

It was long after dark when the porters and I returned to 
camp on that memorable day at Lake Hannington. As we 
stumbled over the hot rocks toward the tents, I could see in 
the light of the kitchen fire Abdulla, the cook, bending over 
the steaming pots. The tent boys* dressed in clean white 
kanzus and red-tasseled caps, were gathered about him, wait- 
ing for my arrival to serve dinner. By the light of a lantern 
hanging in the veranda of my tent I could see the table with 
its white cloth and three camp chairs waiting for their 

In the background under the acacia trees the tiny tents of 
the porters could be seen by the light of many fires. The 
hot, sultry air was filled with the odor of wood fires and 
cooking food. The sound of melodious voices raised in 
conversation, snatches of song, and now and then bursts 
of happy laughter, told us that the comedian of our safari 
was entertaining his companions. 

I found Mr. Akeley and Mr. Stephenson sitting silently, as 
hungry men will, before their tents. They had had a grilling 
day. Traveling over miles of lava rock in the stifling heat 
and blistering sun, they had dodged rhino and buffalo. 
They had seen greater kudu, kongoni, and impalla from a 
distance, but not a flamingo. Mr. Akeley's disappointment 
over his failure to find the birds or add a kudu to our 
scientific collection was so keen that I hadn't the heart to 
enthuse just then over my own good fortune. But later, 
over our coffee, I told them in detail of my experiences and 



Mr. Akeley consented to let me pilot Mm to the same spot 
In the morning. Before retiring we loaded our cameras and 
prepared for an early start. 

Blessed indeed is he who can make plans and follow them 
to the letter in the jungle. The following morning an at- 
tack of malaria kept Mr. Akeley in camp. Mr. Stephenson 
wanted to add a kudu to his bag of rare trophies, so he 
started at dawn to hunt for the animals among the boulders 
along the escarpment. 

As our time was limited at Lake Hannington, I left Mr. 
Akeley reclining on his cot under an acacia tree by the stream 
and went back to make motion pictures of the birds. 

With the exception of a few flocks which were scattered 
over the lake, the majority of the birds were in the same 
place noisily feeding. When I walked out on the beach to 
set up my tripod they arose with a rush and a roar of wings 
that deafened the senses, and I was obliged to shout into my 
gun bearer's ear the instructions about placing my tripod. 

After circling gracefully over the lake a few times, how- 
ever, they returned and settled down without fear. As they 
came slowly, floating in a compact mass, toward us, they 
looked exceedingly foolish, hissing and bobbing their heads 
like talkative human beings. We talked aloud, and our 
voices echoing over the water did not deter their advance. 
Even our laughter over their ludicrous appearance did not 
frighten them. 

The most inquisitive ones came so close to the shore that 
the boys ran out and waved their arms to keep them back 
within range of the lens. 

The following day we were obliged to leave Hannington 



to meet the train for Nairobi, so we left the beautiful birds 
and the stifling valley to their solitude. 

When we developed our plates and film a few days later 
we were so delighted with the results that we decided to 
make another journey to Hannington in May, when we 
hoped to find the flamingos nesting. 

Although we made this journey, and went direct to the 
north end of the lake, following the old caravan trail, we 
were just about six weeks too late. 

The old nests, which the birds reconstruct year after year 
by piling up mud with their bills a foot or more high, cov- 
ered a vast, desolate mud plain which was dazzlingly white 
under a salt-encrusted surface. The torrid atmosphere 
reeked with the frightful odor of rotting egg-shells, putrid 
fish, and an age-old deposit of guano. No human being 
knows, nor has the boldest of our theorizing travelers even 
dared to guess, how many generations of flamingos have 
seen the light of the African day from this remarkable, 
though unsavory, community nursery. 

Our disappointment over our failure to secure records of 
what must surely be one of the most amazing bird nurseries 
in the world was very keen. But Africa is no place in which 
to waste time over vain regrets. Therefore we heaved a 
sigh for the pictures we might have taken had we arrived a 
few weeks earlier, took a last look at the deserted nests, and 
started off to find the feathered colonists. 

It was horribly hot and the stifling atmosphere reeked with 
the sickening odors from the nursery. While there are not 
so many hot-water springs and geysers along the margin of 
.the water at the.north end of the lake the stones over which 



we walked were just as hot as in the southern region. In 
fact they were so very hot there was no need to urge the 
porters to step lively with their burdens. 

We found the birds in almost exactly the same spot as 
when I photographed them on our previous visit. We 
watched them for some time before Mr. Akeley went out 
on the beach to photograph them. Then with a rush and 
a mighty roar of flapping wings, the sea of pink rose in the 
air and after circling the lake settled on the water a few 
hundred yards in front of us. 

Hastily building a crude blind with a few branches Mr. 
Akeley hid behind them to wait until the birds came closer 
while I, accompanied by the porters, sought the shelter of 
the trees. 

In less than a half hour there was a general movement 
of the birds in our direction and it wasn't long before Mr. 
Akeley was recording the spectacular scene on his film. 
He soon learned that he had no need for caution with these 
friendly, inquisitive creatures. So he left the blind and 
placed his camera at the very edge of the water. Before 
he had time to turn the crank the birds crowded up, stepping 
on each other's toes and kronking queerly as they craned 
their necks to look at the shining lens. They came so close 
that we had to throw sticks and stones into the water to shoo 
them back into the field of the lens. 

Lake Hannington is not nearly so inaccessible as it was 
in the good old days when it took weeks to traverse the dis- 
tance which is covered to-day in a few hours by motorcar. 

The danger and thrilling adventure as well as the romance 
of a nomadic tent life are a thing of the past. The modern 




African explorers will not miss it, for they never knew the 
joy or the romance of the old way. 

With such comfortable and expedient methods of travel 
as the automobile and motorcycle, and the rush of hunters 
and settlers to the country, it is almost too much to hope 
that the flamingos have escaped the guns. Like some of 
the hunted beasts of the African forests and plains, their 
beauty will be their death sentence, for it will draw upon 
them the guns of mighty Nimrods who kill for the sheer joy 
of killing. 

How much the flamingo colony has suffered by the influx 
of white men to the country I cannot say. But I do know 
that it is still a breeding place, even though the traveler of 
to-day can hire an automobile at Nakuru, on the Uganda 
Railway, run out to the bird colony, and be back at the dak- 
bungalow in time to wash away the memory of the dusty 
road and dress for dinner. 

Although motion-picture cameras had not at the time of 
our visit reached the scientific perfection of the present-day 
machines, with which pictures of birds and animals can be 
obtained at a great distance almost as faithfully as if they 
were made In a studio, we did secure some remarkable 

They will be remembered by many of those who saw 
Paul J. Rainey's famous film called "The Water Hole." 
Our pictures of the flamingo colony and others which we 
obtained on that expedition were incorporated in that re- 
markable film. The history of these films is not without 
romance. They had the distinction of being the first of 
their kind to be brought out of Africa. When shown at the 



old Empire Theater on Broadway they caused a tremendous 
sensation and had a long run. They made Mr. Rainey 
famous as an explorer, and were finally purchased, with 
borrowed money, by two men who are to-day the president 
and vice-president o one of the largest motion-picture 
corporations in America. Despite its long run, however, I 
was told that the film was not a financial success, but it was 
the agent which started these two men on their extremely 
successful career as motion-picture magnates. Our pictures 
were also the foundation for the splendid film library now 
in the American Museum of Natural History where Mr. 
Akeley so generously placed them and urged other explorers 
to do likewise for the benefit of future generations. 




IT was while listening to the roar of mighty cannon and 
exploding bombs during the World War that a great longing 
for the peace of the African jungles took possession of me, 
and I began to plan another journey to that fascinating coun- 
try. As expeditions to Africa are expensive undertakings, 
and magic lamps and fairy godmothers had passed me by, 
there was nothing for me to do but wait and work and plan. 
Finally in the summer of 1924 I was in a position to organ- 
ize an expedition of my own and return to Africa for the 
purpose of living with the natives. 

Most of my friends were appalled at the very mention of 
such an undertaking without a white companion to care 
for me if I became ill, but this phase of the journey was the 
least of my worries, for I had never been ill a day in my 
life with anything more serious than a cold and the infected 
bite of a pet monkey. 

I was moreover better equipped for the undertaking than 
my friends realized, for on former expeditions with Mr. 
Akeley it was necessary for me to become proficient in the 
use of remedies to combat the dreadful fevers and other 
tropical diseases to which my husband was very susceptible. 
In those earlier days when physicians were few and their 



stations far between, I was often obliged to be the camp doc- 
tor as well as anxious nurse. 

Owing to the frequency with which Mr. Akeley was a 
victim of fever the management of our large caravan of 
native carriers, representing various tribes, obviously fell 
upon my shoulders, thus giving me an experience and a 
training in dealing with the natives which was invaluable 
and without which I could not have crossed Africa alone, as 
I did, without the help of safari agents, white hunters, or 
trained natives. 

The task of equipping my expedition selecting tinned 
food, tents, guns, cameras, and medical supplies for a pro- 
longed stay in the jungle was made easy through my ex- 
perience in helping to plan and purchase the equipment for 
our former expeditions. Fortunately, from the very begin- 
ning of my African career I shared the dangerous work of 
the expeditions with my husband, hunting wild animals and 
following their trails accompanied only by the natives. 
Therefore, with my accumulated knowledge of the country 
and its inhabitants, my plan to visit Africa unaccompanied 
by a white companion did not seem so dangerous an under- 
taking to me as it did to those who knew nothing about my 
former field activities. So I went on with my preparations 
for the journey. 

Ever since my first experience with the primitive tribes of 
Central Africa twenty-two years ago, I have had the firm 
conviction that if a woman went alone, without armed 
escort, and lived in the villages, she could make friends with 
the women and secure authentic and valuable information 
concerning their tribal customs and habits. 



To find natives who had not been influenced by civiliza- 
tion was, I realized, one of my greatest problems. Though 
I was interested in the tribes of East Africa and Uganda, 
having lived so long among them, I also knew that the great 
influx of settlers, traders, and big-game hunters had brought 
to them an influence which would taboo them for my pur- 
pose. From all the information I could gather I decided that 
the Pygmies were the least known of all the African tribes. 
Therefore I decided to enter the Belgian Congo at Boma, 
on the west coast, and make my way inland to the Pygmy 

Although I had never traveled in the Congo and had no 
first-hand knowledge of conditions there, I had read so much 
about the vastness of the forests, the deadly climate, 
cannibals, witch doctors, and the elusive Pygmies, that 
I had no illusions about the seriousness of my self- 
imposed task or the dangers that awaited me in the jungle 

To be frankly honest, I will admit that during my busy 
days of preparation for the journey I was haunted by an 
uncanny fear that I might not be equal to the severe test 
which loneliness and isolation in a dismal, sunless forest, 
with only wild beasts and wilder human beings for com- 
panions, puts upon those who attempt to solve the jungle 
mysteries. In Africa they tell nightmare stories of strong 
men who were sent out to isolated government posts in for- 
est clearings becoming unbalanced. Others, in sheer des- 
peration, have wrecked their health and their lives by 
resorting to drink and other vices to forget the eternal wilder- 
ness of trees and the overpowering tangle of vegetation that 


walled diem in and hid from their vision the rising and the 
setting of the sun. 

I knew only too well that these stories were not fairy tales 
to frighten the uninitiated, for in the years that I had spent 
following game into the out-of-the-way places on the Dark 
Continent I saw and experienced proof of the jungle's 
sinister power. 

When the Brooklyn Museum of Arts and Sciences heard 
of my plan to visit Africa again they honored me with a 
commission to collect specimens of the fast-disappearing wild 
life. So I changed my plans and went first to the Kenya 
Colony on the east coast, where I knew that despite the 
heavy toll taken each year by the settlers and visiting sports- 
men I could secure the desired specimens and discharge my 
obligations to the museum before entering the more un- 
healthful Congo country. 

There are two distinct ways of outfitting for an expedition 
into Africa: one is to plan carefully and then make your 
own arrangements, attending to the smallest details yourself; 
and the other, and more popular, is to employ "safari 
agents/* They will, of course, relieve you of all trouble 
and anxiety, but they will also deprive you of a rich and 
valuable experience. On the other hand, you will be as 
safe in the hands of an agent as if you were on a Cook's 
tour, for he will not only make all your arrangements and 
furnish your equipment and porters, but will send you 
out on safari under the protection of a white hunter who 
will be the leader of your expedition. He will find the 
game for you, and if you are a bit nervous or an indifferent 
shot he will guard you or help you out by killing your ele- 



pfaant or your lion, and then politely congratulate you on 
your wonderful prowess and pluck. All you have to do is 
follow the white hunter and pay the bills. 

There were two reasons why I did not employ agents on 
my last expedition. One was that I wanted the experience 
of organizing, equipping, and carrying through to a finish 
an expedition of my own, without the help or advice of 
any one. The second, and perhaps the more important, rea- 
son was that I was practically financing my own expedition, 
and frankly I did not have the price. 

Through the kindness of a British official who was familiar 
with my work on former expeditions in Africa, I was given 
permission to enter a closed territory far from the big-game 
hunters' route. 

The first part of my journey was made in dugout canoes, 
traveling inland up the Tana River from the Indian Ocean. 
I hunted in the thorn scrub along the banks for specimens, 
preserving and caring for the skins myself. I made photo- 
graphs and developed the negatives. Securing camels from 
the Somalis, a hostile, nomadic tribe, I proceeded across the 
arid desert country which lies between the Tana River and 
Abyssinia, marching by moonlight to avoid the heat of the 
day and hunting in the evening and early mornings. 

At the end of three unforgettable months I reached Meru, 
a government station northeast of Mt. Kenya. Having se- 
cured the desired specimens for the museum, I secured a 
motor truck large enough to transport me and my two Swa- 
hili servants and our belongings to Nairobi, where I shipped 
the collection to America. 

When this work was finished I bade good-by to old 



friends who tried hard to mask the fears which they enter- 
tained for my safety, and left the very prosperous town of 
Nairobi for the land of the little people and my big 

If the reader has ever felt like running away for a vaca- 
tion or indulging in some wild celebration after having ac- 
complished a difficult task, he can appreciate my feelings 
when I boarded the train which carried me inland to Kisumu 
on Lake Victoria Nyanza. The first part of my expedition 
had been a success. My work for the museum was prac- 
tically finished and I wanted a vacation, so I decided to give 
myself a real treat by visiting Ruwenzori, the mist-covered 
Mountains of the Moon. 

On former expeditions I had climbed to the glaciers on 
lofty Mt. Kenya. I had camped in the clouds on the top of 
Mt. Elgon and hunted elephants on the wind-blown ridges 
of the Aberdare Range. I had ascended to the rim of the 
old crater Longonot and traveled well up the slopes of ice- 
capped Kilimanjaro; now my sense of freedom and a task 
well done revived an old longing to visit this mysterious 
mountain, whose beauty is constantly guarded by a misty 
veil of clouds, before I entered the great dark forest where 
the little people are known to dwell. 

Although I planned carefully, fate decided that I was not 
to make that visit, and the only view my longing eyes re- 
ceived of Ruwenzori came many weeks later from the hills 
rising high above Lake Albert, far to the north. 

The sudden change in my plans was the result of a con- 
versation with a man I met on the steamer which carries pas- 
sengers across Lake Victoria Nyanza. Although of Swedish 



birth, he had been an official in the lower and central Congo 
districts for twenty years, and knew the country well Upon 
his advice I decided to give up my pleasure trip to Ruwen- 
zori and the much-traveled route across the lower Congo, 
and look for Pygmies north of the Aruwimi and Ituri rivers 
in the districts Du Litur and Bas Uele. 

For the first time I appreciated the advantage of traveling 
alone and with little baggage, for I was able to change my 
plans on a moment's notice. So, going north to Butiabwa 
on Lake Albert, I crossed to Kisenyi on the Congo side. 

After an irritating but unavoidable delay at Kisenyi and 
again at Irumu I finally reached a point on the Epulu River 
where the newly constructed motor road ends and the vast, 
unexplored Ituri Forest begins. Here I was Informed that 
I must wait for porters, who were coming with government 
supplies, from the district in which I wished to travel, before 
I could proceed. 

This was indeed annoying, but when I recalled the words 
of Hassan, my old Mohammedan gun bearer, when anything 
disagreeable happened, "It's God's business, mem-sahib," I 
decided to accept the situation with what grace and patience 
I possessed. 

When the motorcar dumped me and my belongings at 
the Epulu River encampment I found the resthouse, where I 
was to stay until my porters arrived, occupied by a Flemish 
couple. One of the rooms contained a double four-post 
bed which was covered with a billowy, old-fashioned, feather- 
filled tick. And scattered about the floor were innumerable 
bags and iron-bound chests that were securely fastened by 
big padlocks. These chests were filled with enough ivory 



treasure to cause Henry Morgan to turn over in his grave 
with envy. The other room, across the corridor, was occu- 
pied by a flock of fifty chickens who came and went at their 
leisure. An old cat, a kitten, and a little monkey, who 
clung like a burr to the old cat's fur, gave a very domestic 
touch to this scene. The man was a government employee 
who was returning with his wife to Europe, and they were 
waiting for porters to take them to Stanleyville. 

Although my fellow travelers could not speak English, 
and my French was of the World War variety, we fell into 
an animated conversation almost at once. By using their 
hands and a few words of Flemish interspersed here and 
there with a few words of French, English, German, and 
Kingwana, they made me understand that the chickens 
would vacate and I might have the coop for my boudoir. 

As there was no place to pitch my tent, and I had no por- 
ters to cut down the jungle, there was nothing for me to do 
but accept their offer. I decided, however, to have my boy 
do a little excavating before I moved in. Ten large baskets 
of dirt and debris were carried out of that room and a 
layer of wood ashes put in their place before I permitted 
my floor cloth to be laid and my belongings carried in. While 
this work was in progress my loquacious fellow travelers 
kept up a rapid-fire conversation. They said they had been 
waiting for porters for ten days and the prospect of their 
coming within the next fortnight seemed dubious. My 
heart sank at this Information, for it promised a long wait 
for me. Time was precious, but as speed has not yet 
reached the Congo the only thing I could do was to make 
the best of it. 


I consoled myself with the thought, however, that die 
forest which surrounded the encampment was full of lovely 
birds and fascinating monkeys. There was excellent fishing 
in the river, and the ant life, of which there is no end, was 
always interesting. Tired as I was that night, the thought 
of going into that chicken coop to sleep held no attraction 
for me. But I finally succumbed to weariness and went to 
bed. Shortly after I retired the two cats crawled through 
the huge palm leaf which served as door, and after playing 
about the floor for some time, decided to desert the feather 
bed and the occupants of the next room, who were broad- 
casting on the same wave length, and establish permanent 
headquarters at the foot of my cot. Five times I put them 
out and five times they returned, and finally their perse- 
verance won a place at the foot of my bed. Nor were the 
cats the only uninvited guests to share my room that night. 
One of the roosters, which had escaped the watchful eye 
of my boy and come home to roost, roused me out of a 
sound sleep about four o'clock in the morning, and nearly 
frightened me to death by standing at the head of my cot 
and sending forth his clarion call that daylight was 

Breakfast, which I shared with my companions on a com- 
mon, long board table in the corridor between the rooms, 
was enlivened by Musifetti, the mischievous little monkey, 
who with uncanny intelligence watched his opportunity to 
scamper over the cloth and help himself to whatever his 
roving eye fancied. Now instead of reprimanding Musi- 
fetti for his naughtiness, his mistress, whose longitude and 
latitude varied but slightly and whose voice had a marvelous 


carrying power, made the most of this occasion to display 
her temperamental disposition. She rolled her pretty brown 
eyes, and clasping her head with her hands rocked back 
and forth exclaiming at the top of her voice, "Main kopj 
malahl, main kopf malahl" (My head is sick, my head is 
sick) . 

The husband paid no attention to these theatrical out- 
bursts, but they were not lost on the servants, who like all 
natives were past masters in the art of mimicry. The little 
comedy was rehearsed many times during the day before an 
appreciative audience of dusky ladies who stopped behind 
our kitchen on their way to the river. 

Seldom have I met natives with a keener sense of humor 
than those boys. They kept the camp in a constant turmoil 
by playing jokes on their master and mistress. There was 
one boy whose first waking thought must have been of his 
mistress, for he arose with alarm-clock precision each morn- 
ing to annoy her. 

Eggs and chickens are the two staple articles which form 
the white man's diet in the Congo. The demand on the 
poor natives for these commodities is so great that I often 
wondered if, in their behalf, the good Lord was not perform- 
ing miracles under our very eyes, as He did at the Sermon on 
the Mount. The white man's inevitable greeting to the na- 
tives of the Congo is, "Leta kuku, leta mayaya" (Bring 
chickens, bring eggs). It is the call of the Congo, and I 
heard it so often that I learned to loathe it as I learned to 
loathe the sight of natives carrying the poor, tortured chick- 
ens, swinging head downward, from their loads. 

The chickens at the resthouse, whose numbers were in- 




creased daily by the natives who brought food to the camp, 
saved their lives by keeping the larder well supplied with 
eggs. When a hen gave warning that she had deposited 
her daily contribution somewhere in the vicinity of the house 
there came an answering cry of "Mayaya, mayaya" (An 
egg, an egg), and a very excited woman rushed out 
of the house, and like a child playing hide the thimble 
searched everywhere for the little white ball, which she 
afterward guarded from the boys as a miser guards his 

You may be sure that many false alarms were given by 
the mischievous boys during the day; but it was early in the 
morning when they enjoyed their joke on their mistress most. 
It was then that the human alarm clock would sneak stealth- 
ily to the chicken coop, a huge wicker basket which rested 
on the veranda close to the house, shake it vigorously to 
rouse the chickens and then give a perfect imitation of a 
cackling hen. This never failed to bring his night-capped 
mistress bounding from her bed, yelling ( *Mayaya, may- 
aya." Finding no egg, accusations and a babble of voices 
roused the whole camp, and sometimes the stinging lashes 
of the chicotte descended upon innocent backs. But the boys 
were very sporting and did not betray one another, and as 
they seemed willing to pay the price for their fun I laughed 
silently from behind the bamboo walls of my room. 

To live in that sort of an atmosphere is something of a 
strain on even the most angelic disposition, and needless to 
say I was perhaps the happiest person in Africa when on the 
eighth day our porters arrived. But anxious as I was to 
leave the motor road and all that it meant and to enter the 



African bush and be alone with my friends the natives again, 
I waited two precious days to give my companions a good 
start, for our road led in the same direction for several 
days. I also wanted to give the porters that had been as- 
signed to me a rest, for their shoulders were raw and bleed- 
ing from carrying heavy loads. 

Then early on the morning of the third day, when the 
gray dawn was chasing away the shadows of the night, I 
was ferried across the Epulu River in a huge dugout canoe, 
and with my little band of untrained men, whose language I 
did not speak, I set out on the last lap of my journey in 
quest of the Pygmies. 

As more porters than I required to carry my equipment 
had been put at my disposal by the government officials, I 
distributed the loads so that the men who were suffering 
from wounds on their shoulders would carry the lightest 
burdens. My consideration for their welfare was actually 
received with suspicion, and two of the favored men fought 
with another to gain possession of his heavier load. They 
thought my "kindness had some hidden meaning which would 
be directed against them later on. 

Their association with white men, a certain type of white 
men, who unfortunately are altogether too numerous in 
Africa, had left them like their own unhappy dogs sus- 
picious of a proffered kindness and always on the alert and 
ready to dodge the kick which invariably accompanies a 
command. A less experienced traveler might have become 
incensed and mistaken their actions for ingratitude, but ex- 
perience had given me a sympathetic understanding of my 



porters' mental attitude, and 1 realized that It would take 
patience to win their confidence and good will. 

My simple humane act of distributing the loads did in 
time bring a rich reward. It not only won the friendship 
of these black men who were to be my only companions for 
many weeks in that great, lonely forest, but it gave them 
something to think of and gossip about as they trudged 
along the forest trail. 

As we journeyed on I made them like me by stopping at 
villages and wayside markets to give them a rest and a 
treat. Porters are always hungry. When away from home 
they are, naturally, deprived of all the little delicacies which 
a wife or mother is in the habit of preparing for them, and 
their traveling rations of green bananas and mayhogo roots, 
which they roast in the coals of their camp fire, are a poor 
substitute for the "stews that mother makes/' So I bought 
little cone-shaped packets of fat white ants (which they ate 
with as much relish and in the same way as a child does an 
ice-cream cone) , green corn on the cob, bits of smelly dried 
fish, and edible rats which would have made a health expert 
shake his head and whisper ptomaine. 

While we often passed gardens where the hungry men 
might have helped themselves, they always refrained. The 
natives throughout Central Africa have a certain code of 
honor which respects the property rights of others, and this 
code I found was respected and adhered to by the great 
majority. No matter how hungry a man is food must not be 
taken from a garden without the owner's consent, or a 
man's house entered during his absence if his door be 
closed. Of course they have their thieves and dishonest 



ones just as we do 5 but I could not help thinking that white 
travelers In that country should be informed and asked to 
respect this very admirable gentleman's agreement. 

In addition to the twenty-five men who carried my loads 
I had eight men to carry my tepoi. A tepoi is a native-made 
chair swung between two large bamboo poles, and it is a 
very comfortable mode of conveyance in that fatiguing cli- 
mate. The men took turns, four at a time, carrying me, 
and as they trotted along the forest trail they talked and 
laughed and sang their tribal songs. 

The songs of the various African tribes differ as they do 
in civilized countries, and those sung by my Walese car- 
riers were unlike any I had heard before. There was one 
song which seemed to be the favorite with the men when I 
wanted to be carried. It was a combination of a yodel and 
a yell, and I am quite sure it would have made an enthusias- 
tic pedestrian of the most indolent type of person. When 
the boy who trotted directly behind my chair announced with 
a sudden yell that he was going to yodel, his open-air voice 
rocked the ether and jarred my brain so painfully that in 
self -defense I slipped from the conveyance and fled down 
the trail with as much haste as if a herd of elephants were 
after me. When distance softened their powerful voices I 
enjoyed the singing, but it is just as well perhaps not to say 
what I thought about the musicians when I was in my tepoi. 

It may astonish and interest the reader, as it did me, to 
learn that rooting, as college boys do at football games, is 
a very old and primitive form of expression. At frequent 
intervals during a day's march, and especially when we were 
nearing a village, one of my tepoi boys would run along 




beside the line of porters, marching ahead of us, and shout 
in his own language, "We are, we are, the porters of 
madam/* and then, all together, they would join Mm in a 
lusty yell that made the forest ring and brought the villagers 
to the wayside. 

If the porters had a grievance against me if, for instance, 
I had refused to let them loiter on the way to drink palm 
wine and flirt with the village belles they would remain 
silent and refuse to raise their voices in my behalf. As our 
route lay through the great forest where from time to time 
we came upon clearings in which there were villages, occa- 
sions for grievances were frequent. But at no time was 
there viciousness shown in their attitude toward me. Al- 
though they used this means of letting me know that they 
resented my orders, with but one exception they obeyed me, 
and their grievance was always forgotten at the sight of 
another village or a palm tree that had been tapped. 

Generally the natives were very friendly when they learned 
that I was a woman traveling without escort through their 
country. As is the custom in the Congo, the Sultan of the 
district, followed by a retinue of dirty, ragged men attired 
in obsolete Belgian uniforms and carrying antiquated muz- 
zle-loading rifles and dirty bandoleers, but no ammunition, 
came out a mile or two on the trail to meet me. The Bel- 
gian flag was always conspicuous on these occasions, and 
headed the procession. Sometimes if the Sultan was a% im- 
portant one he was accompanied by the court musicians, and 
a leader who improvised songs suitable to the occasion as 
we entered the village. Laughing and talking and singing, 
every one escorted me to the resthouse where I was to spend 



the night. The natives living along the main trail had all 
seen white women, but they had never seen one traveling 
alone or one who was looking for their elusive little neigh- 
bors, the Dwarfs. 

Naturally I was the center of attraction with the women, 
and my appearance was discussed as frankly as women dis- 
cuss one another the world over. Usually a friendly smile 
brought them milling around me, asking questions and 
eager to satisfy their inquisitive feminine minds. After 
exclaiming over the color and straightness of my hair, ex- 
amining my clothing, and slyly passing their hands over my 
breasts, they invariably asked about my family. "Where 
was my husband? How many children did I have? How 
big were they? What did they look like?" At first, being 
an honest sort of person, I answered them truthfully and 
confessed that I was traveling alone and that, although I 
was married, I had never been blessed with children. To my 
great amazement the men as well as the women lost interest 
in me and one after another my audience dwindled until 
only the curious children were left to stare. I will acknowl- 
edge that I was somewhat chagrined by their attitude. So I 
decided to adopt a mythical family, and the next time I was 
asked the embarrassing question I boldly counted five on my 
fingers and then indicated their heights with my hand. Had I 
known that my prestige would have soared to the dizzy 
heights which it did I am sure that I should have been 
tempted to increase the number of children to ten. My eld- 
est son, whom I described as very tall, of course very hand- 
some, and of gladiatorial strength, made a tremendous im- 
pression upon them. Indeed, my fabrication so impressed the 



members of my own caravan that it was constantly coming 
back at me like a boomerang. The men, both old and 
young, seemed to take a keen delight in calling me "Mama" 
and boasting of my achievement to every one they met. 
Everywhere we stopped the native women who could as- 
semble a larger family than mine, and there were many, 
paraded before me and then asked for presents as if they 
had won some sort of a prize-awarding contest. There was 
one little boy, my tent boy, whom I was trying to teach 
English, who used to come and sit at my feet every evening 
after dinner to compose letters which he hoped I would send 
to my children in America. He would laboriously enu- 
merate every task which it was his duty to perform for me 
during the day and lay great stress upon the good care he 
was taking of their mama. With all the love of a native 
for the dramatic, he would roll his big, melting brown eyes 
and ask me to say to them that, if he died while performing 
those duties, he died in their mama's service. Then, as if it 
were an afterthought, the little humbug naively named the 
gifts which he hoped they would send him as a reward, and 
which the reader may be sure the clever little schemer has 
since received. 

As soon as I arrived in a village where I was to spend the 
night the news was radioed by means of a huge wooden 
drum to the owners of near-by gardens. The great hollow 
logs boomed out a Scotland Yard description of who I was, 
where I was going, and the number of porters in my cara- 
van, and instructed the owner of each garden how much 
food he or she would have to contribute and deliver at my 
camp toward our rations. 



These primitive people, about whom, after all, we know 
so little, have a code, older than any one knows, by which 
they can communicate with one another over amazingly 
long distances. By a few vigorous blows on the great hol- 
lowed logs they can warn their neighbors that a marauding 
herd of elephants are traveling in their direction; that a gun- 
bearing tax collector is approaching their village; or that 
another palm tree has been tapped and its life blood stands 
fermenting in the huge black pots waiting for their arrival 
to celebrate a wedding, mourn a death, or take part in a 
witch-doctor performance or some secret-society orgy. 

The drum is a paramount institution in the Congo, and 
every hut holder possesses at least one. There are many 
kinds and shapes of drums. But the mighty code drums, 
which are also used on festive occasions, have a place of 
honor in every large village. They are usually placed at 
one end of the palaver ground on a raised mud platform, 
from fifteen to twenty feet square, with a sloping grass roof 
for protection. It is here that the men of the village gather 
during the heat of the day to gossip, settle lawsuits, and 
enjoy their palm wine. 

These code drums vary in length and also in diameter. A 
large drum will measure from ten to twelve feet in length, 
and I have seen them from eight to ten feet in diameter. 
They are made of a very hard, fine-grained wood, and the 
work of hollowing is done through an opening of from' 
three to six inches, which extends across the top of the log* 
Bit by bit the patient workman hacks away with his prinii- 
tive tools until the drum is finished and ready to polish with 
leaves which have a rough, sandpaper-like surface. Some of 



the drums are marvelous affairs, decorated by artists, and 
carved from thin slabs of wood. Others are tiny replicas 
of the code drums and are used by the parents when teach- 
ing their children the accomplishments of their forefathers. 
The drumsticks are also works of art, and with these won- 
derful instruments the drummer can vary the tones by strik- 
ing the thin lips at the opening, or lower down on the denser 
part of the log, IS the performer desires. The drummer 
also uses the side of his hand or the tips of his fingers to 
shorten or stop the volume of sound. But this is done so 
quickly that it is almost impossible to catch the movement 
unless one observes very closely. 

It is fascinating to watch a skilled drummer. No leader 
of a jazz orchestra takes more pride in his gymnastic per- 
formance than do these jungle musicians. One of my chief 
amusements in a village was to organize drummer contests 
and offer a prize for the best performance. Sometimes the 
men of a near-by village would drag their huge drum by 
means of lianas over the rough trail to compete with their 
neighbors for a prize. 

With great hilarity the contest would begin after the men 
had drawn twigs for places on the program. As they 
warmed up to the occasion it became wildly exciting and 
often at the finish there were anxious moments, for those 
eager, perspiring black men showed as much feeling and ani- 
mosity over the awards as if they were actually civilized. 

As jungle etiquette decreed that I ask the Sultan, or in 
case of his absence the headman of the village, to be the 
judge and decide the contest, it was not always the best man 
who won. For these privileged individuals always insisted 


upon taking part In the performance themselves and un- 
blushingly walking away with the coveted prize. I soon 
learned that to avoid friction in any native contest where 
Sultans were concerned I must have two prizes, and reserve 
the better one for the second winner. 

When the contests were held in the evening by the flick- 
ering light of the camp fires and the big tropic moon, they 
usually developed into an orgy of dancing for both men 
and women. Often the dancing lasted until the gray dawn 
rose over the black wall of forest which surrounded us, and 
warned the women that it was time to go to their work in 
the fields. 

At night the soft, warm air is so filled with the sound of 
high-pitched, choir-like voices, conversational drum codes, 
tom-toms, and wild animal cries that with a little stretch of 
the imagination one could almost believe that they had 
tuned in where several air pirates were broadcasting on the 
same wave length. 


The first Pygmy family I met were brought to my camp 
from their forest home by a friendly Walese Sultan in whose 
village I stayed. Naturally I was thrilled over a visit from 
these strange little people I had come so far to see. 

My first advance toward winning their friendship was 
gifts of salt and tobacco real luxuries for these primitive 
people, and greatly prized. Friendly relations thus estab- 
lished, I held out my hands to the cunning little baby who 
was carried on her mother's hip by means of a broad leather 
strap passed across her shoulder. To my great surprise the 


>aby gurgled Its delight and holding out its chubby arms 
ame to me at once. The child's spontaneous action brought 
brth a roar of laughter and a volley of chatter from the 
onlookers. This frightened the child, and instantly her 
>ody stiffened, her lips quivered, and her big eyes registered 
he terror that filled her little heart. She made no effort to 
;et away. Nor were there any tears to dim the luster of those 
jreat brown eyes that gazed at me so pathetically. She re- 
ainded me of a bird that had been mesmerized and was too 
tightened to move or cry out. 

The father stood and watched us with a shy, friendly 
mile. But the mother was so absorbed in the lump of salt, 
vhich she greedily licked with accompanying smacks, that 
he was utterly oblivious to what was happening around her. 
)ne might think, from her indifference to my presence, that 
he was in the habit of seeing white women every day of her 

From among the various kinds of toys which I carried as 
;if ts for the native children I chose a little red balloon for 
be Pygmy baby. I hoped that the bright color would 
ppeal to her childish fancy and allay the fears which the 
oisterous laughter had instilled in her mind. 

It was a happy thought, for none of the natives had seen 
. balloon, and like anything which they cannot under- 
tand or which has a hint of the supernatural about it that 
>ne introduces to primitive people, the red balloon 
;aused a furore, and the comedy which followed was very 

It so happened that no one witnessed the inflating process, 
md when I appeared holding it by a string the strange ob- 



ject was as much of a surprise to the men in my own cara- 
van as it was to the other natives. Nothing could have 
created more excitement or made a greater impression on 
their superstitious minds. When I stooped over the baby, 
who was sitting on the ground, to tie the balloon to her 
wrist every one surged forward, wild with curiosity, and 
craned their necks to get a better view of the swaying ob- 
ject. But they were quickly ordered back by the Sultan 
and the canny old witch doctor. 

First one and then the other harangued the crowd. For 
the safety of every one they would be the first to inspect 
this strange thing which they said had neither head nor tail, 
hands nor feet nor wings. Yet it had to be tied like a bird 
to keep it from getting away. 

A native is never ashamed to let any one know that he is 
afraid if the cause of his fear has anything to do with some- 
thing he cannot understand. I began to have visions of 
being deserted by my boys and left without carriers all on 
account of a ridiculous toy balloon. 

With a serious, theatrical expression the two wise men 
approached and bent cautiously forward to inspect the bal- 
loon, and an intense hush came over the people. Just at 
that moment a gust of wind sent the red ball bobbing swiftly 
in their direction. With more haste than dignity both 
jumped back, the old witch doctor losing his balance and 
falling over a stool. Laughter comes to the lips of natives 
quickly, and shouts rose on the air. The old man, however, 
was equal to the occasion, and with clever wit he announced 
in sepulchral tones that it contained a spirit that wanted to 
be released. 




Fortunately, before he had time to decide whether the 
spirit was a good or a bad one, the Pygmy mother dashed 
into the ring and saved me from what might have become a 
dangerous situation. During the little comedy she had 
remained on the outskirts of the group, happy with her lump 
of salt. Now, catching sight of her baby sitting on the 
ground with the strange object wavering over her head, she 
gave a yell and came forward like an animal protecting its 
young. Anger, fear, astonishment, and relief were registered 
on her face as swiftly as a picture on a screen. 

When the baby kicked her feet and waved her chubby 
hands in greeting to her mother the balloon jumped mys- 
teriously over her head. The mother struck at it and leaped 
back obviously afraid. It puzzled her, and she struck it 
more gently and began to laugh and shout. After all, she 
had more courage than the witch doctor. With character- 
istic native indifference to her surroundings, she began run- 
ning around the child, and as she ran the current of air 
caused the balloon to bend and sway. It was a comical 
sight, and I dashed into my tent to fetch my camera. But 
no- sooner was my back turned than the mother snatched the 
balloon and ran with her prize toward the forest. She was 
quickly pursued by the yelling mob. In the excitement she 
fell, and the balloon escaped. As a sudden, squally wind, 
such as are frequent in the forest region, carried it gracefully 
skyward the astonished natives stood with open mouths and 
upturned faces, watching. 

Then a remarkable thing happened. Two hawks rose 
from their perch on a near-by tree and gave chase. The 
winner in this unique race hovered for an instant over the 



prize and then, swooping downward, struck the balloon with 
its claws. When it exploded both birds turned a complete 
somersault, dropping a short distance as if they had lost their 
balance. Then, quickly righting themselves, they flew 
straight as an arrow shot from a bow toward the forest. 

For a full minute the natives stood spellbound, gazing 
into the sky as if they expected to see the released spirit. 
The Pygmy woman was the first to recover her voice and 
break the spell. When she realized that the thing she 
coveted had vanished she began to scream like a pampered, 
bad-tempered child. In her frenzy she threw herself full 
length on the ground, biting the grass and pounding the 
earth with her hands. 

I longed to try an experiment and see what a good old- 
fashioned spanking would do for her. But the situation 
was too delicate even to intimate such a desire. With one 
accord the natives left her and crowded about me. All 
talked at once. They wanted to see more of my magic, and 
asked questions which I knew better than to answer. I had 
no intention of losing the advantage and prestige which the 
balloon, the woman, the wind, and the hawks had inspired 
in their superstitious minds. Nor did I intend to waste pre- 
cious material on one group of natives by letting them see 
another balloon. I could not resist the temptation, how- 
ever, to take advantage of their belief in witchcraft to teach 
them a lesson in honesty. I thoroughly enjoyed explaining 
to them that the Pygmy woman had done wrong in stealing 
the balloon, and that the scene with the hawks was only a 
warning of what would happen to others who took what did 
not belong to them. The natives are great gossips, and the 



story became the favorite topic of conversation with my 
boys. Often at night I would hear them telling the story 
and acting it out for the benefit of the natives in whose vil- 
lage we camped. When my versatile and imaginative cook 
was the narrator it was as cleverly done as a good mystery 
play. To them it was a miracle, and I fancy, like some of 
our own miracles, it has improved with age and the lively 
imaginations of those gifted narrators. At any rate, it is to 
the oft-repeated and dramatic accounts of the balloon epi- 
sode that I attribute the fact that my camps in the Congo 
were immune from trouble or pilfering. 

After the episode with the hawks we returned to the 
palaver ground. I found that regardless of the excitement 
the Pygmy father had remained with his baby and was stand- 
ing under a tree with the child in his arms. 

When the mother finally recovered from her tantrum 
and joined them I took their measurements, and found that 
the man was two and one-half inches taller than his wife, 
who was just three feet, nine inches. The most surprising 
feature about my little guests was the soft texture of their 
skin, which was a brownish yellow and very clean. I ex- 
pected to find them very dirty, shy, and covered with hair. 
While I was setting up my tripod and arranging my camera 
to photograph them I was wondering why travelers did not 
give a more truthful report of what they saw. Then sud- 
denly I looked up and received the shock of my life. My 
little guests had lined up and were actually holding a pose 
waiting to be photographed. The mother was holding her 
baby in front of her, and the little father stood with both 
hands hanging by his side. 



They were just friendly neighbors of an enterprising Sul- 
tan, who admitted that a sort of partnership existed between 
them, and that for a slight remuneration the little Pygmy 
family lived close by and came at his bidding to pose for all 
the travelers who passed that way. One must admit that 
there was no evidence of an inferior intelligence shown in 
this very admirable business arrangement. They not only 
gained in wealth, but the Sultan was able to please his 
white guests and send them away with the feeling that they 
had seen a real Pygmy family. 

These were not the Pygmies I had come so far to see, so 
the next morning, a little wiser and also a little happier for 
my experience, we marched on. Day by day we went deeper 
and deeper into that boundless forest, camping each night 
in the clearings where the friendly Walese had their villages, 
and where I could buy food for my hungry porters. 

Our woodland trail wound through the moss and liana- 
draped forest, over wooded hills, across innumerable rivers 
and streams the mileposts of the Congo and through 
treacherous swamps where my carriers struggled and floun- 
dered with their burdens and sank knee-deep in mud and 
green slime. Sometimes the trunks of mighty trees, all wet 
and covered with moss and slime, lay across our path, and 
careful maneuvering was necessary on the part of the porters 
to get across with their burdens. Stones, treacherous roots, 
and dangerous holes were concealed under a deposit of 
moss and dead leaves. And everywhere on the ground, in 
the air, and hovering about our heads were thousands upon 
thousands of exquisitely colored butterflies. Sometimes the 



silence of the forest was broken only by the falling of a 
seed or the snapping of a twig under our feet. 

Hardly a day passed that we did not see or hear elephants. 
Often on rounding a bend in the trail we would find that 
our way was completely blocked by the mammoth beasts. 
They had come out of the rain-soaked forest to loaf on the 
trail and dry their wrinkled hides. On such occasions there 
would be a mad scramble for safety. Sometimes the men 
would drop their loads and make a dash for the trees. Then 
every one would shout and yell to drive the animals away. 

There were many nights when they came into the clearings 
where we camped and kept us awake. They terrified us by 
their squealing and trumpeting, and their boldness in com- 
ing close to the place where we slept. One never knows 
when they may take a notion to raid the village, overturn 
the huts, and kill or maim the helpless inhabitants. 

There is something weird and frightening about the Congo 
forest, with its abnormal and distorted growth of vegetation, 
strange animals, and stranger human beings. As the days 
passed I lost my sense of buoyancy and self-determination 
which had given me courage and the urge to enter the dark 
forest on my lonely quest of the little people. 

As I gazed day after day at the colossal, coiling, snaky 
vines the pirates of the forest sending their long, slender 
tendrils, like treacherous fingers feeling in all directions for 
some victim to grasp and choke or crush and kill, I realized 
that all around me a sinister struggle was being waged 
between Nature's forces life, death, and decay. 

Never have I appreciated more fully the true significance 
of the title of Sir Henry M. Stanley's book, "Darkest 



Africa/' or his sincerity in portraying what he saw in tha 
dark forest world, peopled by the mightiest of wild beast 
as well as the tiniest members of the human family. 

I could not help thinking of the curious fact which is - 
matter of no small interest, it seems to me, that the histor 
of extinct birds and animals is being traced by bones tha 
have been buried in the earth for millions of years, whil 
a race of living human beings, which exists in this grea 
forest and in other parts of the world, we know practical!; 
nothing about. 

It is nevertheless true that deep in the dense jungles o 
the Congo forests dwell a race of little people called Pyg 
mies ; their history, like the age-old forest which gives then 
shelter, is shrouded in mystery. Where they came from 
who their ancestors were, or what caused them to live ii 
isolated groups in a dismal, sunless retreat will remain 
probably forever, in the hazy realm of conjecture. 

From time to time in recent years meager bits of inf orma 
tion have filtered to the civilized world about the littL 
people through explorers, missionaries, and government offi 
cials, but their habit of running away and hiding behind th< 
foliage and shooting little steel-tipped arrows dipped ii 
deadly poison at white men who approach them has no 
encouraged visitors, but has caused them to be left prett 
much alone with the wild beasts in a great forest world o. 
their own. 

Naturally these strange, elusive human beings have fo. 
years intrigued the scientists of many lands, but in spite o: 
the well-equipped expeditions which have been sent out tc 
learn their history the vast, pathless, fever-haunted jungle 



in which they live guard them like prison walls, and are a 
barrier which no man can surmount without the aid of the 
little people themselves. 

Individuals and even groups of Pygmies are often met by 
travelers on the edge of the forest, and sometimes they ate 
coaxed out of their retreat by the Sultan of a friendly 
neighboring tribe to pose for the camera; and for remunera- 
tion, such as salt, tobacco, and palm wine, induced to pilot 
white men into the forest on a hunt for elephant, or that 
strange animal, elusive as themselves, known as the okapi. 

Many travelers and writers on African affairs have de- 
scribed their meeting with Pygmies, and some of them have 
made deductions and advanced theories concerning the his- 
tory of the race. But for all that we have no definite knowl- 
edge of their home life, for if by chance the white man 
comes across one of their villages while hunting the little 
people vanish like will-o'-the-wisps, and are quickly lost in 
a forest where he could not follow a hundred yards without 
a Pygmy guide. 

Naturally this sudden exodus from their leafy homes is a 
matter of great surprise to the white man, as his trained 
mind is in the habit of leaping at conclusions, and judging 
by civilized standards we learn that the Pygmies are shy, 
cowardly, and of low intelligence. 

The white man cannot see himself as he appears to their 
eyes. In the first place he cannot speak their language to 
explain his sudden presence in their midst. The chances 
are that his black followers will try to intimidate the Pyg- 
mies, and thereby hinder instead of help him. 

He does not know that his pale skin and the odor which 


exudes from Ms body, which the natives say resembles that 
of a dead man, have a startling effect upon these isolated 
dwellers of the forest. He does not know that he is the 
bogie man of the grown-ups as well as the children of 
Africa, and that his formidable array of guns, bags, boxes, 
and bold, black followers only accentuates the horror of his 
dose proximity. 

Although the Pygmies Jive in the dense forest, save for 
occasional visits to their neighbors to barter meat and the 
skins of animals for garden produce and palm wine, their 
knowledge of the white man's activities and power is far 
more extensive than is realized. News, in some uncanny 
way, travels far and fast among primitive peoples. Ever 
since the white man first made his appearance on the Dark 
Continent the Pygmies, isolated though they are in the for- 
est, have heard rumors and seen evidence of his power over 
their black relatives. 

Generation after generation, year after year, from the 
shadow of the bush the little people have watched that 
power grow. To-day they are fully alive to the f act that the 
black soldiers hovering like evil birds of prey near the forest 
trails are tools of the white man, sent to decoy them from 
their homes and force them to toil in the fields and in the 
mines like their neighbors. 

One of the greatest problems of Central Africa to-day is 
the labor question. And the white invaders of the country 
where live the little people of which I write, need the 
help of every black man, woman, and child in that great 
"Free State?" to help them develop that amazingly rich 
country. In the hills and in the lowlands, in the north and 



In the south, rich fields of gold, sliver, copper, radium, 
diamonds, and other sources of great wealth have been dis- 
covered. Although the shooting of elephants is prohibited, 
yet tons of precious yellow Ivory find their way to the 
European markets, and every boat that leaves the ports at 
the mouth of the Congo River carries away tons and tons of 
thick, heavy palm oil which has been carried over miles of 
jungle on the backs of natives. 

In the interior, forests and high-grass jungles are giving 
way to fields of snowy cotton, and while the natives die 
old and the young, the feeble and the strong labor in the 
grilling sun hoeing, digging, planting, and fighting the night- 
mare of weeds which spring up before their very eyes in 
spite of their toil, armed soldiers pace back and forth to 
force them to greater effort and to see that no one slips 
away to the Inviting shade of a tree for even the proverbial 
forty winks. 

Railroads are being constructed, mines developed, motor 
cars imported, and the steel rails and other heavy and cum- 
bersome equipment for such development have been trans- 
ported across miles upon miles of malarial swamps, scorch- 
ing, sun-baked plains, and steaming, dim-lit forests on the 
raw and bleeding shoulders of black men whose muscles 
have never moved in violent exercise save for the rhydim 
of a primitive dance. 

Men of capital and keen foresight with interest in the 
mines and other promising industries have constructed hun- 
dreds of miles of wide, dirt motor roads, more pleasant to 
ride upon and better kept than any paved street in New 
York City, through what seems an impassable jungle. This 



task, which would have been a herculean one for trained 
laborers and cost millions of dollars, was performed by the 
primitive people of Africa. Not a blade of grass is per- 
mitted to grow or the imprint of a passing elephant's foot 
allowed to remain on one of those red ribbons of earth 
which branch out like arteries from the heart of the Dark 

To feed these black laborers, who work like ants to per- 
form these modern miracles In the jungle, food must be 
transported over incredible distances. ,More human ants, 
both male and female, are forced to trudge back and forth 
hundreds of heartbreaking miles with heavy loads on their 
backs to supply the ever-increasing demand of hungry 

Women with tiny babies too young to be left at home are 
forced to make these trying journeys with the men. Holding 
their infants close to their bodies by means of a leather strap 
these jungle mothers carry staggering loads of green bananas, 
palm oil, yams, and great bundles of sausage-like rolls of 
sour, glutinous cassava paste the bread of the Congo. At 
night, footsore and weary, these poor women crowd Into 
filthy, unsanitary, grass shelters, which are no protection 
against wind or weather, and sleep on the hard ground side 
by side with the men. The chances are that their nearest 
neighbor, crowding so closely, is suffering with some hor- 
rible contagious disease such as yaws, syphilis, or leprosy, 
that loathsome disease which is one of the curses of the 

Year after year the Pygmies have watched the white man's 
influence and power grow. From behind a screen of dense 



forest foliage, or with their little brown bodies flattened 
along the limbs of high trees like inquisitive monkeys, they 
have seen men and women staggering along the tortuous 
forest trails under their wickedly heavy loads. They have 
heard the groans of these human beasts of burden and seen 
them fall exhausted by the wayside. They have also heard 
the shrieks of these unhappy creatures echoing through the 
forest when the twirling lashes of the chicotte, that invention 
of a cruel fiend, fell upon their helpless bare backs. 

And that is not all the little people have seen from their 
perilous perch In the high trees. Their piercing eyes have 
looked down through the gloom of the forest into yawning 
holes, hurriedly dug in the damp, moldy earth beside the 
trail, where those who fell by the wayside were consigned 
to lonely graves, unwailed by their relatives and minus the 
simple strip of bark cloth which is their mummy-like wind- 
ing sheet. The long trail through the Ituri Forest, from 
Wamba to the Kilo gold mines, is lined with telltale little 
mounds, some of them quite new and others just depressions 
which the creeping jungle tries to hide. 

After I had been in the forest a few weeks there were times 
when a horrible feeling of depression took possession of me, 
and the solid wall of trees surrounding the pitiful little 
clearings changed to prison walls. This feeling usually 
came upon me after a hard day's march through a tropical 
downpour, or when I came into a village where some one 
had died and the professional mourners were wailing their 
dismal death dirge. I felt as if I must push aside the walls 
of green which loomed so dark on every side, and get into 
the sunshine on the wind-swept veldt again. 



I was also discouraged by the fact that I had seen no Pyg- 
mies, when, coming quietly into a village one day ahead of 
my safari, I saw a group of women dancing. The village 
audience was seated on the veranda of a hut watching and 
applauding the dancers. The women were stupidly drunk, 
and the hot sun and their exertions caused the perspiration 
to roll off their shiny bodies. 

As they went round and round in a circle they yelled and 
shouted they call it singing and tried to keep time by 
bending and swaying their bodies and stamping on the earth 
with their feet. They were Pygmy women who had come 
out of the forest to exchange elephant meat and the skin of 
an okapi for palm wine and garden produce with their agri- 
cultural neighbors. They had imbibed so much of the intoxi- 
cating brew, and were so earnest in their endeavors to enter- 
tain their audience, that they were unaware of my presence 
until they heard the shutter of my big camera fall. Then 
one of them stopped and stared stupidly at me. The dance 
song died in her throat as she gazed at the shining lens. As 
her befogged brain realized that a white face loomed behind 
that hideous, one-eyed monster she gave a wild, terrified shout 
and bolted behind the hut. She was quickly followed by the 
others, who fled toward the forest, leaping over the logs 
and ant heaps with the quickness and grace of frightened 
antelope. My boys went in pursuit; some of the women 
were finally coaxed back, and I made friends with them by 
giving them salt and letting them look at themselves in a 
mirror for the first time. 

These I felt sure were the little people about whose home 
life I wanted to learn. At least they seemed so promising 



for my purpose that I decided to visit their village, which I 
was informed was a two days' journey off the main trail. 

I took the precaution to send messengers with the women. 
They carried my visiting card a lump of salt for the Sul- 
tan, and were instructed to say that my visit was not official. 
Also to tell him that I was bringing gifts the like of which 
no Sultan had ever seen. 

It would be difficult to describe my feelings of mingled 
fear and anticipation as I followed my little Pygmy guide 
into the dripping, rain-soaked, fog-filled forest the next morn- 
ing. Not being able to see the sun or the sky, all sense of 
direction quickly left me, and I felt like one groping in the 
dark. Wet to the skin by the dripping foliage almost as 
soon as we started, I stumbled over the roots of trees and 
struggled mile after mile through the tangled and matted 
vegetation. We crossed innumerable small streams and boggy 
patches, and walked around fallen trees. For where the 
forest giant falls, there it lies slowly rotting through the 
ages, and as if in pity the beautiful ferns, moss, and ex- 
quisite orchids blanket its ghostly gray trunk. 

The terrible humidity and my exertions soon caused the 
perspiration to ooze from every pore in my body. As I 
tried to keep pace with the gnome-like little man that slipped 
ahead of me like a shadow, drops of the salty moisture 
rolled down my forehead, got into my eyes, and blinded me. 
The steam which rose from my hot and dripping body 
clouded my glasses, and if a snake or an elephant had sud- 
denly appeared in the bush I would have been as helpless 
as if I were actually blind. 

And as if the forest were taking advantage of my help- 



less condition to discourage me, the twisted, rope-like vines 
and thorny creepers which grew up and down and across 
in every conceivable shape and direction, caught me around 
the head and arms and clung to my rifle in a dangerous and 
exasperating way. 

In the early morning it was not so very difficult to follow 
the guide, for he left a clearly defined trail where his body 
brushed the raindrops off the foliage. But later in the day, 
when the dry vegetation closed over his head and hid him 
from view, my only clue to his whereabouts was the odor 
which emanated from his unwashed body and which, by its 
own strength, remained on the heavy air to guide me in 
the right direction. 

I left half of my equipment and twenty porters at the vil- 
lage in the clearing to await my return. The ten men who 
accompanied me carried the few necessary supplies which 
were needed for my comfort, food for themselves, and 
presents for the Pygmy Sultan. Their task was not an en- 
viable one, and judging by the few words of their language 
which I could understand and the angry glances which were 
cast in my direction whenever I stopped to let them rest, I 
was blessed and blessed fervently many times during the 

About midday, fearing to try their patience further, I 
decided to make camp and call it a day. One after another 
the weary men came struggling through the vines, and 
throwing down their burdens sank beside them in silent 
resignation. Their attitude was far more condemning than 
a display of ill temper would have been. I felt like a slave 
driver. Had they deserted me or refused to go on it would 



not have surprised me in the least. As a matter of fact, 
just at that moment I was so exhausted and discouraged 
by the grilling work of the morning that I would have wel~ 
corned almost any excuse to turn back. 

All the morning I had been driving myself forward into 
that nightmare of vegetation while something within me 
kept urging me to turn back. My torn and mud-stained 
clothing and the smarting wounds on my face and hands 
which had been inflicted by the thorns and rough bark on 
the vines contributed much to my unhappy state of mind. 

To add to my troubles, every muscle in my body ached 
like a sick tooth from the strenuous exercise of getting under 
and over obstructions, a form of exercise which I can hon- 
estly guarantee will reduce any one to the desired shadow 
without the use of drugs or the advice of a specialist. 

My tent was finally pitched in a cosy spot between the 
plank-like buttresses of a giant fig tree. These great slabs 
of wood rose to a height of fifteen feet and gave me a feel- 
ing of security from the sudden attack of wild beasts. A 
deep ring of ashes was spread around the tent to keep the 
insects, which were more to be dreaded than the animals, 
from routing me out during the night. 

It is truly amazing how quickly a tired mind and body 
will react in the jungle to rest and food. No sooner was 
camp made and the green bananas, corn, and mayhogo roots 
roasting in the coals than the men began to talk and laugh 
and sing. 

First one and then the other gave a ludicrous imitation of 
his difficulties coming through the forest. One thought he 
had stepped on a snake. Another had actually fallen into 



an old elephant pit, and still another had been attacked by 
bees and in his effort to escape them had blundered into a 
column of army ants that swarmed up his legs and dug 
their mandibles into his flesh. As each man gave a realistic 
rehearsal of his experiences the others held their sides and 
rocked back and forth with uncontrollable mirth. 

Musical instruments, the most essential and conspicuous 
object of a black man's traveling equipment, were thumbed. 
Voices were raised in song, and before 1 realized it the men 
were dancing and the forest echoing with their merriment. 
At my table, which was neatly laid with a white cloth and 
china dishes, and decorated with a lovely bouquet of mauve 
and purple orchids, I sat in my comfortable camp chair and 
enjoyed cold broiled chicken, corn on the cob, toast, and 
fresh pineapple, and watched my jungle cabaret. 

Exquisite butterflies, dragon flies, moths, and bees came 
and fluttered and buzzed over my food. The gigantic spread- 
ing fig tree under which we camped was a favorite feeding 
ground for the birds. And, unmindful of our presence, they 
came in pairs and flocks and chirped and screeched as they 
hopped about on the branches and fed on the ripening 

Soon my tired muscles relaxed. Enthusiasm for the big 
adventure that lay before me was revived, and I wouldn't 
have turned back for anything in the world. 

The African, natives can sleep under almost any conditions, 
and in almost any posture. My Walese porters were no ex- 
ception to this rule. And after they had eaten until their 
protruding stomachs could hold no more they lay on the 
ground, with the moldy leaves and the loots of trees for 




their mattress., and slept, while the ants, flies, and big grand- 
daddy-longlegs crawled over their inert bodies. 

At midday a few stray shafts of sunlight found their way 
through the foliage into the forest and brought many strange 
insects from their hiding places under the bark of trees and 
under the leaves. 

Amused by my interest in the creatures, the alert little 
guide took a stick and pointed them out, even catching some 
of them in his hands and bringing them to me for closer 
inspection. We finally left the sleeping porters and explored 
the bush in the vicinity of the camp. 

We stood in awed wonder before a villainous-looking 
spider while he spun an exquisite golden web. We watched 
another, a gourmand, stocking his larder with living insects; 
catching his prey and quickly spinning a thread to bind them, 
as a robber does his victims. And still another, whose bite 
the Pygmy assured me was poisonous, looked like a shape in 
a nightmare. His body was big, purplish-black, and hairy, 
and his legs, also hairy, were long and gave him a crab-like 
appearance. When cornered he bristled like a porcupine 
and leaped ferociously at the end of the long pole which 
the Pygmy poked at his head. When his mate appeared the 
enraged creature leaped upon her and for a moment they 
battled fiercely, turning over and over on the moss between 
the roots of the tree. The battle raged for fully a minute, 
and the mate lay still. His anger spent, and sick unto death 
from the poisonous wounds inflicted by his mate, the ugly 
creature walked groggily to the base of the tree and tried 
to climb up the rough bark. Suddenly he lost his hold and 
tumbled backward. After writhing in agony for a few sec- 



onds his legs stiffened and he became paralyzed and died a 
truly jungle death. 

Most ferocious of all, however, were the ants. They 
swarmed on the bushes. In the trees, and on the floor of the 
forest by uncountable millions. There were the big, black 
Sifu ants, traveling in formation like an army, and looking 
for all the world like endless bands of broad, black ribbon. 
We kept at a respectful distance, for these aggressive insects 
have the right of way with man and beast throughout the 
length and breadth of Africa. 

There were tiny red ants and big, fat, flying ants, whose 
oily bodies are food for man, bird, and beast. There were 
ants that build nests high up on the limbs of trees like 
wasps, and others whose architectural fancy seems to be 
cooperative apartments. Their homes are designed like huge 
toadstools and built in tiers, one on top of the other. Some 
of these quaint structures were securely cemented to the 
trunks of trees, and others rose from the ground at an angle 
and looked like miniature leaning towers. 

These same ants, or termites, have honeycombed the soil 
of Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. And 
their castles twenty and thirty feet high also decorate the 
landscape in various parts of the country. These castles 
are permanent structures, with walls as hard as stone, and 
air shafts which give them a better ventilating system than 
can be found in some of the modem apartments in New 
York City. 

Like two thieves we broke through the walls into some 
of these dwellings and watched the effect on the inhabitants. 
We saw the foremen of the labor gangs marshaling their 


myriads of workers and hurrying them to the scene of the 
catastrophe with grains of sand to repair the damage. 

Each little worker was hodcarrier, bricklayer, and mason 
combined, for he not only carried the grains of sand, but he 
cemented them together with his own saliva, and helped 
to mold the wall into its former shape with his tiny front 

Although we did not go more than fifty feet In any given 
direction, on account of the danger to the sleeping men 
from wild animals, I saw an unbelievable number and 
variety of insects; and while we watched their movements 
it was necessary to keep a small branch constantly moving 
to discourage the flies, midges, and mosquitoes. They set- 
tled on my neck, got behind my glasses, and flew into my 
ears and nostrils. These pests are bloodthirsty and vicious, 
and their bite leaves a red spot on the skin which soon 
develops into a pustule and causes intolerable irritation 
which the most drastic treatment fails to relieve. 

I went to bed directly after dinner, hoping that my mos- 
quito net would protect me from the onslaught of the hun- 
gry legions which came through the air and sang their battle 
cry over our heads. My net, however, was little protection. 
They crawled through the mesh and scored so many times 
that in the morning I looked as if I had met with an 

My poor porters, who slept in the open around the fire, 
were so mercilessly bitten that they did nothing but scratch 
their bodies the whole of the time we were in the forest. 

We were all glad to break camp and start, as soon as it 
was light enough to see the trail, for the Pygmy village. 



As on the previous day, the going was slow and difficult, 
and I tried to keep far enough ahead of the porters so that 
I could not hear them complain. But it was no easy task 
to struggle with the vines, hold my hat, carry my rifle, and 
keep track of the guide who was constantly darting this 
way and that, gathering slugs, snails, caterpillars, and other 
Pygmy delicacies. 

Once we stopped to rob a bees' nest, and the men devoured 
the honey, comb, sticks, grubs, and all, and laughed heartily 
when I made a wry face and refused to accept a sticky 
handful proffered by the guide. 

As the morning advanced the heat became stifling. Climb- 
Ing over hills and going down Into swampy valleys became 
positive torture. I was amazed to find hills in the forest 
fifty and one hundred feet high composed solely of huge 
boulders. Some of the great rocks moved at my touch and 
seemed ready to topple into the swampy valley below. They 
were covered with moss, lichens, maidenhair ferns, and 
debris. Some of them were split and being gradually 
forced apart by lianas and the roots of trees. 

It required some courage to follow the guide into one of 
the black, yawning caves under the rocks, where the bones 
of animals, grass beds, and a decidedly Pygmy odor gave 
evidence that it had recently been occupied by the forest 


The first indication I had that we were approaching our 
destination and the crucial moment when I should stand 
before the czar of that dim wilderness and present my cre- 



dentials, salt and tobacco, was a penetrating whistle and 
the answering tattoo of a drum. 

The guide pointed to the limb of a tree close by and 
there, looking very much like an ants" nest, was the little 
dwarf who had blown the whistle to warn the villagers of 
our approach. 

My arrival a few moments later did not seem to cause any 
particular excitement in any one but myself. The Sultan, 
whose fuzzy head and humped shoulders did suggest the 
ape, was sitting on an ebony stool before the embers of a 
fire, drinking palm wine from a huge black pot. Although 
he saw me standing on the trail, he did nothing to indicate 
that he was aware of my close proximity. It was quite 
evident that he was prepared to give me a warm reception 
if my visit was not to his liking, for the whole village 
numbering thirty-one, counting the women and children 
stood in the background with weapons of defense in their 

The men were armed with elephant spears, the women 
had clubs, and the boys carried little bows covered with the 
tails of monkeys and heavily barbed, steel-tipped arrows. 
As I gazed at the fearsome group of little dwarfs standing 
in the dim light under the towering trees, my inclination 
was to turn and run. It took real effort of will power to go 
forward to the fire. 

The Sultan, without rising, reached forth his well-shaped 
but hairy hand and touched my fingers. Then with a rush 
of unintelligible words he looked at me and smiled, showing 
his splendid white teeth, and pointed to the stool beside him. 
Without more palaver he filled a broken gourd with wine 



from the black pot, took a drink to let me know it wasn't 
poisoned, and passed it to me. I pretended to drink and 
then handed the cup to my boy, who drained it to the last 
drop and smacked his lips and rubbed his stomach to let 
me know I had missed a good thing. 

The utter lack of servility in the manner of the Pygmy 
Sultan struck me at once, and was a delightful contrast to 
the false, cringing attitude of the natives who have come 
under the white man's rule. He was not shy, nor was he 
bold, and his natural curiosity about his guest was concealed 
as cleverly as it would be in any well-bred and diplomatic 

Perhaps the reason for this nonchalant manner, however, 
was that my guns were not in evidence, and I had come 
among them with a following of only ten unarmed men. 

While the porters cleared a place in the bush for our camp, 
I presented tie Sultan with his first cigarette. He watched 
me carefully to see what I did with mine, and then lit his 
own. While we sat and smoked I took stock of the village. 

The huts, which were built close together around a cleared 
space, were of the usual beehive shape. As they are only 
temporary dwellings they were crudely made by drawing a 
few saplings together and covering them with phrynium 
leaves and binding the whole together with pliable vines. 

One could hardly call these huts a home, for they are only 
used to sleep in or to give shelter when it rains. The 
palaver ground, or cleared space, is where they sit and eat 
their meals and hold their revels. 

Close beside one of the huts I saw myriads of flies and 
lovely forest butterflies fluttering along a sunbeam that 



pointed like a huge, warning finger to a sickening refuse 
heap where three gaunt, dirty yellow dogs snapped and 
snarled at one another as they nosed about in the filth for 

When the villagers saw their Sultan and his guest sitting 
amiably side by side, smoking cigarettes, they lost their 
hostile attitude and came up for a closer inspection of me. 

When the Sultan stood up to order them back I was sur- 
prised to find that he looked taller than his measurements 
later proved to be. I was also greatly impressed by Ms 
graceful gestures when speaking, and his dignified and au- 
thoritative manner. 

His short legs, heavy torso, and long arms did not dis- 
guise the fact that this unwashed, forest-dwelling savage, 
with habits lower than the wild beasts whose flesh he feeds 
upon, possessed that indefinable air of superiority which 
one finds among so many of the leaders of the African 

I had not been in the Pygmy village long before I realized 
that instead of being the observer I was the observed. And 
the little people were as thorough as scientists in their ef- 
forts to solve this human riddle that had come so suddenly 
and mysteriously into their lives. 

My long, straight, white hair, which I brushed frequently 
to impress them, was often the subject of warm debates. 
They also wanted to know if my body was the color of my 
hands and face. To convince them that it was, I rolled up 
my sleeves and exposed my bare arms. But this did not 
satisfy them, so they asked me to remove my clothes. 

Their effort to make an exhaustive inquiry in regard to my 



color left me no privacy. When I bathed, in spite of the 
vigilance of my boys, both the men and women crawled 
through the bush and poked their woolly heads under the 
canvas of my tent. The only way I could discourage them 
was to throw a pan of soapy water in their face. There 
was one, however, a wizened little old man who looked like 
a resurrected mummy, who refused to be discouraged, and 
early one morning before the camp was awake he stole up 
to my tent and cut a slit in the canvas. My mosquito net 
would have suffered the same fate had I not blinded him 
with the soapy water. 

For about a week life went on in the Pygmy village very 
rfiuch as it might in any home where an uninvited stranger 
came to stay. They did not divulge any of their carefully 
guarded secrets, nor did the witch doctor perform for the 

When they felt like it the women and girls went into the 
bush to search for edible roots, bulbs, and insects for the 
evening meal. When the men felt energetic they would add 
variety to the menu by bringing in a few monkeys, birds, or 
squirrels. And once they brought in an old male chimpanzee 
that looked so human I fled in horror to my tent, and noth- 
ing could induce me to look upon the tragic sight again. 

At some time during the course of their lazy day the adult 
men would give instruction to the young boys in the art of 
throwing a spear and shooting an arrow. Although the 
Pygmies show remarkable skill in using these weapons when 
their target is stationary, it became very evident when I 
threw objects into the air for them to shoot at, and when 
they were shooting at fleeing monkeys, that they knew noth- 




ing about the science o judging speed and aiming ahead 
of a moving object. 

In an effort to vary the monotony of the days and make 
them forget that a stranger was in their midst I introduced 
the childish game of jump the rope, using the lianas in lieu 
of rope. It was a happy inspiration, and the little people 
became wildly excited over this new diversion. The old as 
well as the young caught the spirit of it and went around the 
palaver ground leaping and yelling and hitting one another 
over the head with the tough vines until each in turn fell 
to the ground utterly exhausted by their hilarity and the 
strenuous exercise. Some day, no doubt, we shall hear that 
some traveler has visited the Bambute Pygmies of the Ituri 
Forest and discovered that the little people were the origina- 
tors of the childish pastime, jump the rope. 

The next thing that happened to break the monotony of 
our jungle existence nearly ended in a tragedy, and taught 
me the folly of interfering with a primitive man when 
disciplining a wife. 

It all happened because the Sultan was displeased with 
the careless manner in which his wife prepared his evening 
meal a matter which has been the cause of more than one 
domestic upheaval in far more civilized households. 

The lady was toasting a piece of fat on the end of a sharp 
stick, which she held over the fire, for her hungry and wait- 
ing lord, when by some chance move on her part the titbit 
slipped off and blazed up in the flame so fiercely she could 
not retrieve it. With a roar of rage the quick-tempered 
savage jumped to his feet and leaped across the space which 
separated them, striking the little woman in the face and 



knocking her flat on the ground. Shouts of laughter rose 
from the other Pygmies to greet this brutality and encouraged 
him. Then, just as he was about to pounce upon the scream- 
ing woman, groveling at his feet, to inflict more punishment, 
1 interfered. 

Resorting to my best Kingwana, I shouted, "Toka, toka" 
which means, "Get out, get out," and rushed around the 
camp fire toward him. With the rapidity with which these 
little people are capable of moving, he leaped over the form 
of his prostrate and chastened wife, and with rage-filled 
eyes and distorted features stood facing me. Terrified, I 
halted in my tracks. Words cannot describe the diabolical 
expression on his face and humped shoulders. There was 
something about his long arms, which hung by his side, 
and twitching fingers that suggested the wild beast ready to 

Suddenly, with a guttural yell that echoed strangely in 
the forest, he leaped into the air again, like a jack-in-the-box, 
and stood for a second threateningly before me. Then rock- 
ing his heavy body from side to side he waved his arms 
and beat upon his chest as if it were a drum. His eyes 
blazed and seemed ready to pop out of his head, and his 
broad, flat nostrils quivered and dilated like those of a 
winded horse. His actions were exactly like those of a 
caged chimpanzee when in a towering rage. 

The whole village, including my own boys, crowded 
around us, with spears and knives held tightly in their 
hands. The little people talked and chattered excitedly. 
I thought I had seen enough of natives and their ways 
not to be afraid of them, but this display of temper 



was beyond anything I had ever seen. To say I was fright- 
ened would be putting it mildly. I was simply terrified, 
and my hair and clothing were dripping with the perspira- 
tion that oozed from every pore of my body. 

But had I known that the next moment was to be my last 
I could not have helped laughing at that sizzling human 
bomb. My sense of humor never served me better, for, 
African fashion, the unexpected happened. As my laughter 
burst forth the thing which we call a human being, but 
which for the moment was a wild beast, stopped rocking. 
And then with a Jekyil and Hyde transformation that would 
rival John Barrymore's interpretation of that unlovely char- 
acter, his mood changed, his rage subsided, and his features 
relaxed. I imagined I could see the hair on his chest and 
shoulders lowering as it does on a dog calming down after 
a fit of anger. 

It would have been a simple matter for those savages 
to blot me and my little caravan off the map and shift their 
habitation to another part of that boundless forest where 
white men never go. But it was not to be, for after staring 
hard at me for a moment he turned and shouted a hoarse 
command to his people who immediately fell back. Then 
as he turned, to walk around the camp fire and resume his 
seat, he glanced at me once or twice from under his protrud- 
ing brows in a suspicious, hesitating way, as if he were 
doubting the wisdom of his own judgment in being so 
lenient with me. Although I was shaking like a leaf, 
and had a queer, sick feeling, I did my best to appear non- 
chalant as if butting into the family affairs of Pygmy Sul- 
tans were an everyday occurrence with me. I also followed 



his example and resumed my seat beside the fire and with 
a very shaky hand lit a cigarette, and purposely blew the 
smoke in the Sultan's direction. There was method in this 
maneuver, for the little rascal was passionately fond of 
tobacco, and I had been a good provider since I arrived in 
his village. I wanted to make him beg for one so I could 
appear magnanimous, but I was disappointed. Although 
he sniffed the smoke and stared at me, he held his peace. 

Finally, as if I had just thought of him, I called my boy, 
and giving him a cigarette told him to light it for the 
Sultan. If the kind word that turneth away wrath held half 
the magic of that cigarette, human beings could perform 
miracles. He simply beamed upon me, and his mood be- 
came as pleasant as sunshine after a tropical storm. He 
talked loudly with his people and laughed over his own 
repartee. He even became garrulous and friendly with his 
chastened wife, and bubbling with Pygmy affection he gave 
her a resounding slap on the hip and caught her leg and 
tripped her up when she humbly proffered him another piece 
of fat, which she had taken from one of the children and 
toasted without mishap. 

The Pygmies are still in the Adamite stage of develop- 
ment, and the art of housekeeping among the women is as 
simple as it was when Eve kept garden for Adam. There 
are perhaps no women in the world who marry and raise 
families with less domestic cares and worries than the 
Pygmy women of the Ituri Forest. 

They plant no garden and wash no clothes, and the only 
Jive stock they possess are the kind that infests their un- 
combed heads and unwashed bodies. .When these become 



too troublesome the head Is shaved and the body scraped 
and painted. 

Their leaf-thatched homes are only temporary structures 
and can boast of no piece of furniture. They sleep on the 
ground beside a fire, and their beds are made of leaves and 
the dried skins of wild beasts. 

Their children, whose bodies never, even at birth, know 
the cleaning influence of water, save when their mothers 
are caught out in the rain, come into the world quietly at 
least the one whose birth I witnessed did and rarely annoy 
the mother by their cries, not even when their poor little 
heads are kept bobbing about like a rubber ball while the 
mother jumps, jumps to the rhythm of the drums. 

The household utensils in a well-established Pygmy men- 
age consist of a few broken gourds and one or two big 
black pots, which some member of the community has bor- 
rowed or stolen from their more enlightened neighbors who 
are agriculturists and live in clearings in the forest. 

These pots are often used as wine casks and they also 
serve as plate and platter for the whole community when a 
delectable Pygmy stew, composed of such ingredients as 
bush rats, lizards, grubs, snails, winged ants, monkeys, edi- 
ble roots, leaves, and long, black, hairy caterpillars, is on 
the menu. 

Since my visit to the Pygmies I have never partaken of 
stew or soup made from stock, for when I see it served mem- 
ory carries me back to a vision of my little friends dropping 
their contribution, whatever they found in the forest, into 
the yawning mouth of the black pot, where it remained until 
the odor roused their appetites. 



Stews, however, are only a sort of hors cT<ravres with the 
Pygmies. Meat is their piece de resistance, their entree, and 
their dessert. When a big animal, like an elephant, an 
okapi, or a chimpanzee is killed, villagers repair to the place 
where it lies, and there the little people remain until not a 
vestige of it is left. They dance and consume quantities of 
palm wine at these feasts. The meat is eaten raw, half 
cooked, and in all stages of decay, with no apparent ill 
effect, unless it be in the abnormal distention of their 
stomachs. It was no unusual thing to see my little hosts 
and hostesses sitting around a dead animal with their teeth 
buried in a piece of meat while they cut off huge mouthfuls 
with a rusty hunting knife. 

When a piece slipped out of their hands and fell to the 
ground it was wiped off on the owner's head or bare leg. A 
trifling accident like this, however, did not interfere with 
their appetites or their smacking enjoyment of a feast. 

yWhen making an excursion to a neighboring tribe to bar- 
ter meat for palm wine the Pygmies usually don a piece of 
bark cloth. But when they are at home in the forest their 
only covering is a few flowers, or a bunch of leaves plucked 
from a convenient bush, and sometimes this decoration is 
visible only when the wearer turns around. 

For dress-up parries, or an orgy when an elephant is killed, 
the whole community will spend days painting grotesque pat- 
terns on their faces and bodies with clay or soot mixed with 
fat. They do not mutilate their bodies, however, as other 
Congo tribes do. 

Their only ornaments are charms made of the chopped 
eyelashes of elephants and the great goliath beetles. The 




men wear little wooden whistles, suspended by a piece of 
leather from their necks, which have a great carrying power. 
Their charms and whistles are anointed with the blood of a 
chicken by the canny witch doctor, who guarantees that they 
will protect the owner from illness and all the death-dealing 
demons of the forest. 

Not once during my visit to the Pygmies did I see a child 
punished. An infant is never left alone. If a mother wishes 
to go to another hut to gossip with her neighbor, take part 
in a dance, or go into the forest in search of food, her child 
goes with her. Her hip is his cradle, her soft, brown arm 
his pillow, and a leaf and the warmth from her body pro- 
tect him from the rain and the cold. 

While the women take good care of their babies, it is the 
men who are demonstrative and affectionate with them. The 
children are all pot-bellied, and when old enough they run 
about the forest with nothing more cumbersome to hamper 
their movements than the inevitable goliath beetle charm. 
The change in temperature on rainy days does not seem to 
affect them, for I saw no evidence of coughs or colds among 

It was a great surprise to me to find that at birth a Pygmy 
baby is the size of any normal child. Then for a few years 
they seem to grow tall and thin like the light-starved vege- 
tation around them. At a certain age Nature checks their 
upward climb and they broaden out and develop tremen- 
dously heavy shoulders and torso for their size. 

The average height of the Pygmies I met was about four 
feet. There was, however, great diversity in individuals, 
some being several inches below this measurement, and 



others above. In color they ranged from a brownish yellow 
to coal black, and this variation was very pronounced in 
members of the same family. 

The Pygmy women appeared very dull and stupid by com- 
parison with the men, who have a keen sense of humor and 
are very merry until their quick tempers are aroused. 

Their wild, lawless life in the dangerous forest has devel- 
oped in the men a quickness of movement and a sense of 
sight and hearing that can only be rivaled by the wild beasts 
which roam the jungles in search of food, like themselves. 
But, strange as it seems, this remarkable power of sight and 
hearing seems to become dulled when they come into the 
clearings where they are out of their element. 

Malnutrition and sun-starvation is the favorite theory ad- 
vanced for reason of the dwarf stature. However true it 
may be with Pygmies in other parts of the world, these rea- 
sons certainly have nothing to do with the growth of the 
Bambute Pygmies whom I visited. I found them a healthy, 
happy, well-nourished people, amazingly free from the 
awful diseases which are so common and so decimating to 
other Congo tribes. 

They have a great variety of both vegetable and animal 
food. They spend hours basking in the sunlight which, in 
places, finds its way into the gloomy forest through rifts in 
the foliage. Whatever may be the cause of arrested devel- 
opment in the Pygmies, it is something which cannot be 
learned by a short visit to their villages, or by reading a well- 
written treatise on the subject which has been compiled by 
a well-read, stay-at-home scientist. 




The most thrilling and exciting experience I had in die 
three months which I spent in the Ituri Forest was tracking 
an elephant with my little hosts. Had I known when we 
started out in the morning that the quarry was to be ele- 
phant I am sure I would have had a serious attack of cold 
feet and remained in camp. 

After having spent two strenuous years following ele- 
phants when we were after the group which now delights 
the visitors to the American Museum of Natural History 
in New York, I had no wish to experience such perils again. 

It was shortly after breakfast one morning that the faint, 
far-off, bird-like sound of Pygmy whistles reached our ears, 
They electrified the whole village and sent the hunters 
hurrying into the trees where they had put their freshly 
poisoned spears out of the reach of the children. 

As I had often gone hunting with them, I put two sand- 
wiches and all the cartridges I possessed, which were nine 
my box of ammunition was lost at Jinga, and I had but 
twelve cartridges for my journey across the Congo and fol- 
lowed the excited men who were making their way single 
file through the bush. In about a half hour we came across 
the fresh droppings of an elephant, and leaning their spears 
against a tree die Pygmies mixed their find with mud and 
smeared it over their heads and bodies to disguise their own 
odor. I was earnestly urged to do likewise, but I hastily 
declined with thanks. 

Presently we were joined by the owners of the whistles, 



relatives from another village. The Pygmies are past mas- 
ters in the art of conversing in gestures, and I soon learned 
that an elephant which had fallen into one of their traps 
had escaped. But not before their poisoned spears and sev- 
eral poisoned stakes at the bottom of the trap had entered 
his body. 

Then for the first time 1 realized, with a sinking feeling, 
that we were on the trail of a wounded elephant. I tried 
to bribe one of the Pygmies to lead me back to camp, but 
it was too late. The hunt was on, and whether I liked it or 
not I must remain with the six little hunters to the finish, 
even though it lasted for days. 

Once we crossed a modest little stream of water that rip- 
pled and glided silently over a sandy bed half hidden be- 
tween banks of maidenhair ferns and clusters of Crinium 
lilies. Sometimes the scent of an unseen flower filled the 
hothouse atmosphere and was a welcome relief from the 
offensive odor of my companions. 

Sometimes the spoor would be lost where the ground 
was swampy and cut up by deep holes left in the mud by 
the passing of many elephants. The little men stopped fre- 
quently for consultations. Woolly heads were bent over 
the great footprints. Freshly crushed leaves and broken 
twigs were examined and like a useful Baedeker they helped 
to determine our direction. 

Once during the morning I found relaxation when we 
came to an open glade where a troop of chimpanzees were 
enjoying a sun bath on a pile of rocks. One old fellow was 
lying on his back mouthing a slender twig which he held 
between his teeth. Every now and then he would raise his 



foot and, grasping the branches of an overhanging bush, 
beat himself vigorously with the foliage. Then with a quick 
turn he flopped over on his stomach, and as if in anger 
because the bush did not continue its pleasant treatment he 
would jump up, scratch his head, and, leaping up and down, 
utter piercing screams. The sight proved too tempting to the 
hunting instinct of the Pygmies, but just as the man next to 
me drew his bow I spoiled his aim by bumping against him 
and the arrow whizzed harmlessly over the heads of the 
family party. 

Needless to say the Pygmies were furious, but their volley 
of reproving words was drowned by the piercing screams of 
the apes, who lost no time in getting away into the dense 

The next animals which we surprised in their forest retreat 
were not so fortunate as the apes. Not more than two hours 
after our meeting with the chimpanzees the Pygmies were 
lunching on the raw flesh of one of the strangest animals 
in the forest. 

We had started again on our fatiguing task of tracking 
the elephant, which we knew was somewhere in the bush 
ahead of us. What moment we might come up with him 
we did not know. Perhaps even then he was waiting for 
us beside the trail or coming back stealthily through the 
bush to wreak vengeance upon his pursuers. The African 
elephant Is individual, and it is always a matter of specula- 
tion with the experienced hunter what he will do even be- 
fore he is molested. Most of the casualties which occur in 
the small group of men who really follow elephants are due 
to a sudden, swift charge which takes the hunter unawares. 



If the hunter Is slow In action, or has been careless in his 
preparations, the sequel to the hunt is usually told by a little 
pile of rocks with which the white man's followers have 
marked the spot where the elephant left him. 

With body dripping with perspiration and ears tuned to 
catch each jungle sound, I followed in the footsteps of the 
Pygmies as silently as the obstructions and my civilized 
clothing would permit. 

Never have I seen such an amazing variety of vegetation, 
nor such curious distorted growths under one roof. Nature 
had given free rein to her wildest idiosyncrasies here. There 
was hardly a growing thing which had not suffered some de- 
formity in its efforts to reach the light or escape the octopus 
clutches of the parasitical plants and vines. Some of the 
trees were dwarfed and leaned heavily upon roots which 
Nature had sent down from their distorted limbs to support 
their weight. Some of them were draped with beard 
moss and coming upon them suddenly they were star- 
tling, for they bore an uncanny resemblance to my dwarf 

The deeper we went into that amazing jungle the more 
oppressive became the humidity, and the more terrifying 
became its primeval vastness. Nothing in all that boundless 
forest seemed natural or normal, and strange to say there 
exists a decided similarity between the vegetation, the wild 
animals, and the little savages who live and di^ away from 
the sight of their fellow man. 

As I walked cautiously along behind the Pygmies, my 
thoughts busy with the wonders about me, there suddenly 
came to our ears the sound of splashing water. Slight though 



it was, the Pygmies caught its message. Immediately their 
heads came together for a consultation. To my utter amaze- 
ment they discussed the matter in pantomime, agreeing and 
disagreeing, and coming to a final decision without making 
a sound. Their facial expressions and the movements of 
their hands and bodies were to me far more intelligible than 
their spoken words. 

They humped their shoulders, frowned, pointed with chin 
and lips and raised their eyebrows, and thrust their heads 
forward and back to express their approval or disapproval 
in exactly the same way as did J. T. Jr., the little monkey 
who was my constant companion for nine years. 

One man wanted to climb a tree. Another wanted to 
make a detour of investigation. At times they became so 
excited and gesticulated so wildly it looked as if they were 
going to have a free-for-all fight. 

The matter was finally brought to an abrupt conclusion 
by the little Sultan, who with great bravado turned quickly 
and shook his poisoned spear as if he wished to convey the 
idea that he was ready and willing to meet the giants of the 
jungle single-handed. Like trained monkeys the others 
quickly imitated his action, and to show them their bravery 
was properly appreciated I smiled and nodded my head in 

I followed the Sultan, who took the lead, and so quietly 
did he go that not so much as a twig snapped under the 
velvet tread of his bare feet. When a thorn caught on my 
clothing he turned in fury and motioned that I remove the 
offending garments and hunt in the nude as he did. The 
bus!,' was so dense that it took minutes to go a few feet, for 



each branch and vine had to be lifted carefully and returned 
to place with the same caution. 

It suddenly occurred to me that we might be stalking a 
gorilla, and my heart took a jump and almost stopped beat- 
ing. I was just about to stop the Sultan when a swampy 
patch claimed my attention and my very wickedest thoughts. 

What at first glance appeared to be just a soft patch of 
ground developed into a morass covered with dead leaves 
and green slime. As I floundered across the awful place I 
sank ankle-deep in oozy mud and disturbed millions upon 
millions of mosquitoes and tiny black flies. 

They rose around us in black clouds like smoke from a 
newly made fire. When I grasped the bushes to steady my- 
self their numbers increased, and the noise made by the hun- 
gry hordes was unbelievable. My face and neck and hands 
and arms were so complete!^ Covered with the poisonous 
pests that no one could l^ave told whether I was white or 
black. Not so much as a pin point of fieSh could be seen 
between their thirsty bodies. To brush them off only meant 
an invitation for others to take their plap, and this I could 
not endure, for each bite was like a red-hot needle piercing 
my flesh. 

jWJjea the Sultan turned and looked at me he pointed to 
Ips own J^iack face and put his hand over his mouth to repress 
his rninii. Strange to say, the mosquitoes or flies did not 
stock the Pygmies en masse as they did me. But of course 
I didn't blame the mosquitoes, after walking behind the Pyg- 
mies all the morning. When I looked in my mirror two 
days later I was truly thankful that I was many, many weeks* 
journey from the nearest white persons, for my face and 


neck and arms, weze covered with angry red blotches, some 
of which remained with me until their poison was finally 
dissolved by die high temperature of a malignant fever. 

Just as I was struggling out of the swamp onto dry ground 
we heard again the sound of splashing water. It was very 
close this time, and sounded as if some animal was stamping 
its feet to discourage the flies. 

Although I was suffering excruciating pain from the bites 
and nearly fainting from fright and the awful humidity, 
there was nothing to do but be quiet and follow the Pyg- 
mies. So we crept forward inch by inch. Suddenly the Sul- 
tan crouched, and peering over his head, I saw three ani- 
mals, father, mother, and baby, standing on the sandy bed 
of a shallow stream of water. 

At first the bright sunlight which streamed down through 
rifts in the foliage blinded me, and I could not make out 
what animals thty were. Then suddenly my vision cleared 
and I think my heart stopped beating. For I could see 
quite clearly that the purplish-brown bodies, which looked 
glossy black in the suotight, had striped legs, big ears, and 
giraffe-like heads, and realized that I was within a few 
yards of an okapi fatoily, one of the rarest and most elusive 
animals known to sdence. 

Although I had endured much that morning, I jj&tt 
Mother Africa had given me my reward by letting me set 
those remarkable animals alive in their natural envirttcntt^i:* 

Regardltss of the fact that the mosquitoes were still sing- 
ing fiercely around my head, and my arms looked as if they 
had been sprinkled with red ink from their bites, I felt as if 
I had suddenly entered an enchanted world. 



It was as if I was in a darkened theater where the curtain 
had risen on a great spectacle and the audience breathlessly 
waited the actors' appearance on the scene. 

Tiny birds with long, saucy tail feathers whipped the air 
as they darted in and out among the looping vines and 
foliage after the myriads of insects that swarmed in the 

Huge forest butterflies with wings like silken gauze floated 
lazily, as if hung in mid-air by a thread. Thousands of 
them, with downy bodies and widespread wavering wings, 
lined the banks of the stream close to the animals. With 
each stamp of the okapi's foot they rose in clouds of gor- 
geous color, to float on the air before returning to the same 
moist spot. I realized that the Pygmies were trying to at- 
tract my attention, but still I watched breathlessly as a flock 
of screeching parrots came swiftly through the trees and 
settled on a vine just over the animals' heads. There, with 
shaking wings, they strutted back and forth and argued and 
screeched. A pair of big hornbills stopped their ridiculous 
love-making to cock their grotesque heads and peer down 
over the leaves at them. 

My hungry companions had no interest in the birds or the 
unusual beauty of the scene. They were looking for meat 
for themselves and their families, and meat was there before 

They wanted to act quickly, and this fact was brought 
home to me very forcibly when one of the impatient little 
men thrust the blunt end of his spear into the small of my 
back. Hurt and very indignant at his impudence, I turned 



angrily to remonstrate with him, but when I saw the ex- 
pressions on the forbidding faces I hastily decided to post- 
pone my pantomime remarks until another time. 

Whether the mother okapi heard us or got a whiff of our 
scent I do not know, but she suddenly raised her head In a 
startled manner. The big ears bent forward for a second, 
and then with some force she nosed her baby out of the 

For a second they were almost hidden by a curtain of but- 
terflies, and then I could see her looking over her shoulder 
at her mate who, as if reluctant to leave the water, stopped 
for another mouthful of leaves. 

He did not get farther than the bank, however, and as 
he fell the cow and calf vanished into the forest just as a 
couple of well-aimed poisoned spears landed in the exact 
spot where she had stood. 

The Pygmies were wild with joy and followed one another 
in a dance around the beautiful creature. As the animal lay 
in the sunlight, on the dead leaves and green moss, the 
sheen on its coat was like satin. Comparing its size and 
the dark purplish brown of its coat with specimens I have 
seen in the museums of Europe, it must have been a very 
old and unusually large animal. 

Never have I regretted anything quite so much as my 
inability to preserve the skin and bring it back to America. 
But I could not coax or bribe the Pygmies to return to camp 
after the salt, without which I was helpless. 

In that hot, moist atmosphere the collector must act 
quickly to preserve the skin of an animal. Even then he has 



a lively race with the insects, the mold, and decay, which 
attacks and destroys everything from shoe leather to photo- 
graphic equipment. 

While I regret killing or seeing any animal killed for 
any other purpose than food or science, and do believe most 
earnestly that all wild life should be protected particu- 
larly from white men who employ white hunters to assist 
them with their killing I do not believe in letting senti- 
ment run away with one's common sense. I think the 
natives of Africa have a better right to the game than the 
white man. 

Left alone with his primitive weapons he will not slaugh- 
ter unnecessarily or drive the game from the earth. He is 
far too lazy to emulate his white brothers who hunt for the 
sheer joy of killing. Like the much maligned lion, the 
native kills only when he is hungry, and then only enough 
to satisfy his needs and the needs of his family. 

I do not think I exaggerate when I say that the modern 
housewife is responsible for the death of more dumb animals 
in one month by her wastefulness than a Pygmy is in six. 
The fact that our animals are domesticated and have learned 
to look upon man as their friend makes it seem all the 
more cruel and heartless. 

Although it was two o'clock by my watch, and we had 
been on the trail since early morning, the tireless little 
men lost no time after dancing around the okapi in prepar- 
ing to follow the elephant. 

First they built a sort of nest, with sticks aad leaves, in 
the crotch of a tree, about fifteen feet above the ground, 
and close to the dead animal. This woichtowej; was used 



by the two little men who were left to guard the meat until 
the forest folk whom they called, by blowing frequently on 
their little wooden whistles, arrived for the feast. When 
this was finished they regaled themselves with hunks of raw 

When I tried to tell them that I wanted to return to the 
village they got up, groaned, and staggered about to let me 
know the elephant was very sick and they would follow him. 
I signified my intention of remaining where I was until the 
villagers arrived, but they made it quite clear that I must 
go on. 

The thought of repeating the strenuous and exhausting 
trials of the morning was almost unbearable. It was not 
so much the actual distance we had come that was so ex- 
hausting. It was the enervating heat and the terrific strain 
on my nerves. The fact that we were following a wounded 
elephant through a dkfk forest, so dense with undergrowth 
and hanging vines that, I could not get a clear view in any 
direction, and the necessity of caltying my own gun light 
enough though it itoflfr-f-to be jceady for emergencies were 
most fatiguing. 

But I was alone and in their power, and the little men 
were keenly alive to this fact. My interest in the life and 
habits of the Pygmies jteacheii a very low ebb at that moment, 
and I would have given anything I possessed to be back in 
camp where I could crawl under my mosquito net, away 
from the flies, and go to sleep. 

Longing for the impossible is not conducive to happiness 
in die jungle, so 1 wectt to the stream and tried to forget 
and find relief ftotti cbft burning irritations caused by the 



poisonous bites of the midges and mosquitoes. Cupping 
my hand I dissolved permanganate tablets one after another 
and bathed my swollen face and arms. The water and the 
rubbing only increased the irritation, so I used heroic methods 
and applied the undissolved tablets to the wounds. This is 
not a remedy I would recommend, for it burned the skin, 
and the results were worse than the bites. 

Finally, no cot being available, I threw myself down on 
the bank of the stream, with my arms above my head, and 
tried to go to sleep. I had hardly composed myself before I 
was completely covered from head to foot with butterflies. 
I lay perfectly still as they rested and rose and fluttered and 
settled on me again and again. Suddenly I became conscious 
of two bright eyes peering down at me from a limb. Pres- 
ently I could see black faces fringed in white rising and low- 
ering over the leaves, and I realized that the tree was full of 
inquisitive little monkeys. I forgot my misery and the Pyg- 
mies, but not for long. A low sibilant "sisst" uttered by 
one of the Pygmies brought me back to the dreadful busi- 
ness of tracing a wounded elephant through the depths of 
an unexplored forest. 

Like bloodhounds following a fugitive, the little men 
slipped silently around the trees, beneath the looping vines, 
and crossed boggy patches on sticks and stones as lightly as 
a bird hopping from branch to branch. They even climbed 
trees when they heard a commotion in the bush, and ran 
out on the limbs as dexterously as if they were accustomed 
to living arboreal lives* 

I had several attacks of cold feet and nearly lost my nerve, 



but I dared not communicate my feelings to my savage 
companions for fear they might desert me. 

The trail finally led us to a muddy stream of water which 
we crossed by climbing to a natural bridge of vines. The 
Pygmies ran across this huge cable like squirrels, their big 
toe grasping the rough bark like the thumb of a hand. When 
it came my turn to cross, the merry little men stood below 
and boldly made fun of me because I became panicky and 
clutched wildly at the vines overhead. 

Suddenly, while I was still doing a very bad imitation of 
Bird Millman on the vine, there came a shrill trumpeting 
scream and the crashing and slashing of timber; pande- 
monium reigned in the bush ahead of us. 

The Pygmies faded from the scene as quickly and 
silently as if the earth had opened and swallowed them 
while I, petrified with fright, remained poised on the 

No words can describe the terror of that moment, or my 
feeling of helplessness, for I had given my gun to one of 
the Pygmies to carry across the perilous bridge, and I was 
left defenseless when they fled. 

From my high elevation I could see the heads an4 backs of 
many elephants tearing madly in every direction in a wild 
stampede to get away. They crashed through the forest like 
high-power army tanks, tearing down the vines, felling trees, 
and leaving destruction in their wake. 

Almost as suddenly as the uproar started it stopped, and 
the death-like stillness which followed was ominous and 
more frightening than the noise. 



I was no novice in elephant hunting. I knew that the 
sudden silence was often the forerunner of a sudden, swift 
charge. I waited and watched breathlessly, but nothing 
happened. Just as I was beginning to relax and breathe 
more freely my eye caught a movement in the bushes directly 
in front of me. Slowly but surely they parted and a gleam- 
ing pair of ivory tusks, the largest I have ever seen, fol- 
lowed by a mammoth head and body came cautiously for- 
ward. The beast stopped not more than thirty-five feet 
from me, and spreading his great ragged ears twelve feet 
or more across raised his snaky trunk and waved it gently 
from side to side, trying to locate us. Presently the trunk 
straightened and the tip tilted upward, straight in my direc- 
tion, like an accusing finger. 

So close was he that I could see the red of his nostrils 
as they opened and closed nervously. Finally, after what 
seemed an interminable time, but in reality was only a few 
minutes, the great ears were swept back with a noiseless rush 
against his body, and with still pointing trunk the mammoth 
beast backed slowly and silently away and faded into the 

I lived a year in those few moments, and I don't believe 
I took a single breath during the trying ordeal. But it is 
moments such as these, terrible as they may seem to one who 
has never experienced such danger, that remain in the 
memory to thrill one again and again when a civilized 
existence palls. 

When I felt reasonably sure that the danger was over, 
and I could force my lips into a pucker, I whistled for the 
Pygmies who had so very sensibly made their escape, and 



descended from my perilous position, with badly shaken 
nerves and no wish to go on. 

To pass through the bush where the elephants had been 
seemed like sending out a challenge to death, for often these 
intelligent beasts will wait patiently and silently in the bush 
and take a terrible revenge on their pursuers. 

I knew the Pygmies would desert me if we got in a tight 
place again; not from cowardice, however, as it is so often 
said, but because self-preservation is the law of the jungle, 
and only a fool would stay to face a charging beast, armed 
only with their primitive weapons. 

We hadn't gone far before my nervousness got me into 
trouble. As I was walking along behind the cautious little 
men I stepped on a stick which broke with a loud crack and 
brought down upon me the combined wrath of my com- 
panions. They tried to bully me by their gestures, which 
fortunately roused my anger and brought back my courage 
and control over my nerves. 

We came upon the elephant we were tracking quite sud- 
denly, and happily for us he was quite dead. Besides a 
badly festering poison-spear wound on his back the poor 
beast carried three spearheads and a sharpened bamboo 
stake, all poisoned, in his body. Throwing down their 
spears, the pygmies flung themselves upon the elephant. 
With outstretched arms and tears streaming from their eyes 
they groaned and moaned and pressed their faces against his 
great, rough hide. They fell upon each other's necks and 
danced round and round the still warm body, yelling and 
screeching at the top of their lungs. 

When this frightful spasm was over they blew repeatedly 



on whistles and a little ivory horn, which I bribed the Sultan 
to give me as a souvenir. They carefully collected the eye- 
lashes, bits of the trunk, and the hairs from the ear opening 
for their fetishes. The long, stiff hairs on the elephant's tail 
were also saved and later traded for palm wine to their 
neighbors, who convert them into jewelry. 

As night falls quickly in the forest, and warm meat was 
the most important thing in the minds of my companions, 
I was left to collect the wood for our camp fire and try to 
find a place where I could keep warm in my thin, ragged 
pongee shirt and dripping, mud-stained khaki trousers. 

Never did a lone woman spend a more trying vigil. As 
the light faded a chilling mist rose like a ghostly shroud 
enveloping the forest, and strange, unearthly sounds rose on 
all sides. Bats and enormous beetles whirred and volplaned 
over my head. A family of giant bullfrogs, whose croak is 
not unlike the sound of a big bass drum, rehearsed their 
chorals, going up and down the scale, the whole night 
through. I had not tasted food since daylight, but exhaus- 
tion and the sight of the Pygmies at their horrible feast 
chased away all desire for it. As the night wore on, utter 
weariness and the need of food and sleep made me feel 
very cowardly. I became terrified of the awful shadows 
and shapes which my firelight chased through the mist. 

I tried to avoid the multitude of ants and other crawly 
things which swarmed over the ground, attracted by the fire 
and the fresh meat. 

When the Pygmies had gorged to the limit of their 
capacity they crawled inside the body of the elephant and 
went to sleep. Terrified at being left alone, I threw sticks 



into the air so they would fall upon the elephant's side and 
keep them awake. When this ruse failed to work I 
screamed and pretended I saw a leopard. This brought 
them to the fireside with their spears in their hands, and 
there they remained until the welcome daylight appeared. 

By midday our camp was filled with the strange little 
people. While the men and women were busy building 
shelters to sleep in, the little children ran about the forest, 
with pieces of meat in their hands. They got into every- 
body's way and like children at a picnic they became greatly 
excited and felt very important trying to help their parents. 

Messengers were quickly dispatched to a Walese village 
with meat to be exchanged for palm wine and banana beer. 
The orgy which followed lasted five days. The entire com- 
munity, including the children, painted patterns on their 
bodies and also decorated themselves with the wealth of 
material Nature offered. They drank quantities of palm 
wine and danced as only primitive peoples can and do on 
such occasions* 

The elephant hunt was rehearsed by the clever little 
actors a dozen times. Their display of ego and flashes of 
jealousy over their prowess awake memories which never 
fail to make me laugh. 

How long the Pygmies can evade captivity, which will be 
their death warrant, it is difficult to say. Even now the 
merciless white man is hot on their trail. I, for one, most 
earnestly hope that the great forest which they love and 
which has been their home through the unknown ages may 
continue to prove a safe refuge for them and their kind. 



OF the vast number of people who visit our natural history 
museums and gaze on the strange birds and beasts, so life- 
like in their artificial settings, but few realize at what cost, 
not only in money but in human life, the mounted specimens 
were secured and placed before them. 

Little indeed do they realize what dangers and hardships, 
and often personal sacrifice, the collector must face to make 
a journey into some out-of-the-way corner of the world to 
secure a rare specimen whose habitat is in the depths of a 
primeval forest, on the summit of a high mountain, or in 
the middle of a low-lying, fever-haunted swamp. 

The inscription on the little white card attached to each 
case in a museum is often like a name on a tombstone, and 
tells only the sex and the habitat of the individual. 

A few years ago, owing to the poverty of our public 
institutions and the absence of artistic talent in arranging 
exhibits pleasingly and intelligently to attract the public, 
the museum halls were devoid of life and as silent as the 
dead creatures crowded together in the glass cases. 

Scientists went out on their quest for specimens alone or 
in groups of twos or threes. Most of these men went into 
the field with but very little money, and very poorly equipped 
for their undertaking. 



The world had not yet become a tourist playground, nor 
exploration exploited to the extent of becoming a commer- 
cial fad. Those pioneers went out with but little knowl- 
edge of the country which they planned to visit, or of its 
inhabitants. They lived strenuous lives and ate whatever 
they could find in the way of food. 

Many of them became ill or met with accidents and suf- 
fered terrible privations. Some of them returned to their 
families crippled or broken in health. And there were 
others whose sad story is known only to the museum authori- 
ties and the members of their immediate families. 

It was these men, however, who helped to make the trails 
safe for our modern explorers, and who laid the solid 
foundation upon which the unrivaled natural history mu- 
seums of America are built. 

Unfortunately but few of these men had the time or the 
gift to write of their experiences. 

When they were in the field every moment of precious 
daylight was required for the work of hunting and preserv- 
ing specimens. In the evening, if there were no photo- 
graphs to develop, sheer weariness or insect pests sent them 
early to bed. 

To be the first to set foot on this or that particular spot 
was of small consequence to them. They knew nothing 
about the value of press agents. They did not capitalize 
their expeditions by exploiting women and children or by 
arranging to be the leading feature in the Sunday issue of a 
daily newspaper. Nor did they anticipate a profitable lecture 
tour upon their return. They spoke lightly of the dangers 
and hardships of their journey. They asked no reward 



and received none. If only their expedition was a success 
and they secured the object of their quest, nothing else 

Conditions have changed very considerably even since I 
first accompanied a scientific expedition into the African 
wilderness. Through the untiring efforts of a few men with 
vision and the aid of the press, the great educational value 
of natural history museums has been recognized. Public- 
spirited men and women are generously contributing vast 
sums of money for their maintenance and the advancement 
of science. 

It is no longer necessary for the devoted wife, who shares 
the dangers and hardships of her scientific husband's work 
in the field as well as at home, to do her own housework, be 
her own milliner and dressmaker, and juggle with the fam- 
ily exchequer in an effort to save enough out of his meager 
salary to pay her expenses when she accompanies him on 
his journey afield. 

Expeditions are now sent into the field under the direction 
of a financial organizer who is accompanied by a corps of 
trained workers, well provisioned and elaborately equipped 
with the latest scientific instruments. They have yachts, 
airships, and automobiles. And some of them have radios, 
and can keep in touch with the stock market or the jazz 
orchestra, according to their fancy. 

In fact, the overhead expenses of some of our modern 
expeditions fees for agents and white hunters, permits, 
and elaborate equipment are so heavy that often there is 
but little left for the actual work in the field. 

While large expeditions are inadvisable and often a great 



handicap especially in Africa they have one virtue, and 
that is in case of accident or illness the presence of white 
companions is a comfort, and may often be the means of 
saving a life. 

In my own experience there were occasions while we were 
in the African jungles, when Mr. Akeley lay ill unto death 
with repeated attacks of spirillum and black-water fever, 
when I would have welcomed the presence o another. To 
be both doctor and nurse in a tropical country, where only 
unrelaxing care both day and night can save a stricken com- 
panion, is a heavy responsibility. One cannot or should not 
leave a sick companion to the uncertain care of black boys, 
however willing they might be to relieve one of an exhausting 

On our second expedition to Central Africa, after the 
elephants which comprise the group in the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History of New York, among other mis- 
fortunes which overtook us, Mr. Akeley was mauled by an 

The thrilling story of the accident and his miraculous 
escape from a frightful death has been told many times by 
himself from the lecture platform. But a personal account 
of my equally thrilling night journey to his rescue through 
one of the densest, elephant-infested forests on the African 
continent is not nearly so well known. 

We had been in Uganda, hunting elephants, nearly a year, 
when the terrific heat and frightful thunderstorms, which 
occurred with increasing frequency, warned us that the rainy 
season was approaching. We realized that in a few weeks 
our work of inspecting the great herds of elephants which 


ranged back and forth between Lake Albert and the Nile 
would be impossible. 

The rivers were rising rapidly, and soon they would be- 
come raging torrents; the low-lying grass country, the 
favorite haunt of elephants, would be impassable swamp. 

We had been greatly handicapped in our strenuous work 
of following elephants owing to Mr. Akeley's health, which 
had become seriously impaired by repeated attacks of fever 
and dysentery; so anxious was I that I kept in constant com- 
munication by runner with the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Tegert, 
whose hospitable home at Masindi was a haven where I 
often brought Mr. Akeley to convalesce. 

To remain in Uganda during the rainy season would be 
dangerous, as Mr. Akeley was in no physical condition to 
carry on our work and cope with the discomforts of tent 
life or the sudden climatic changes which take place daily 
at that season of the year. So one day, while he lay on his 
cot, convalescing from fever, at the Mission, we decided to go 
down to the healthy highlands of East Africa, where we 
could make motion-picture records of the Nandi warriors 
spearing lions, and return to Uganda when the rains were 

A hasty examination of our finances disclosed the alarm- 
ing fact that we were out of funds. A cable to the museum 
authorities brought the discouraging reply, "No more funds 
available.'* Imagine being ill and in the heart of Africa 
with work unfinished and dead broke. 

Another consultation resulted in a lengthy telegram to 
our agents, Messrs. Newland and Tarlton in Nairobi, who 
agreed to carry us on until we could return to America and 



convert into cash the only thing of value we possessed, a 
small farm in western New York State, to pay our debts. 

As soon as Mr. Akeley was able to travel we started on 
our long trek toward Lake Victoria Nyanza. With us trav- 
eled a number of Mission boys whom I sent back, like hom- 
ing pigeons, to keep our anxious friends informed of our 

No finer climate can be found anywhere in the world 
than in the Elgon country on the Uasin Gishu Plateau. And 
here the invalid quickly recovered his health. For twenty 
thrilling days we followed one hundred Nandi spearmen, 
and made motion-picture records of their primitive methods 
of hunting the king of beasts. 

Then one day, in a reckless moment, we decided to trek 
across to Mt. Kenya and go to the top. Kenya is one of the 
loveliest, snow-crowned mountains in Africa. It had been 
our first love. We had had many thrilling experiences 
with elephants on its forested slopes, but never had the time 
to satisfy our desire to go to the very top. 

We stopped at Lake Hannington for three days and se- 
cured wonderful pictures of the flamingos, and then on to 
Lake Baringo where we found an old Massi cattle trail 
which led over the Laikepia Escarpment through a park-like 
country filled with game, to the foot of Kenya. 

We made our base camp in a Wakikuyu village on the 
southwest side of the mountain, where we left our horses 
and half of our porters. Accompanied by the remaining 
forty men and J. T. Jr., the pet monkey who was our con- 
stant companion on our African travels, we started to cut 
our way through the dense tangle of vegetation to the top. 



Twice we succeeded In reaching the bamboo forest ten 
thousand feet up, but mighty canyons filled with dense vege- 
tation and unclimbable precipices forced us to retrace our 
steps. Victory, however, crowned our third attempt, and we 
succeeded In reaching the Ice fields, eighteen thousand feet 

So happy and reckless did success and the marvelous 
beauty of the forest make us that we decided to return to 
the foothills by a different route. 

We followed elephant trails whenever we could, but there 
were times when we were obliged to plunge through a track- 
less forest of giant tree ferns. We quenched our thirst with 
icy water from rock pools at the base of lovely waterfalls. 
We slept nightly on a bed of cedar boughs which were often 
laid over a carpet of violets, and were awakened in the 
morning by the trumpeting of elephants. 

It was a glorious adventure, with no illness, accident, or 
bad weather to mar our joyful journey to the clouds. It 
was with keen regret that we finally emerged from the forest 
and made camp on the edge of the bush near a picturesque 
Kikuyu village, where we had camped on former expedi- 
tions to the mountain just as a tropical downpour broke 
over our canvas home. 

While waiting for our horses and our porters to come 
up from the base camp, where we had left them when we 
ascended the mountain, we developed the negatives which 
had been exposed in the forest. So many of them were 
failures owing to the gloom that Mr. Akeley decided to 
return to the lower reaches of the forest for a few days to 




make another photographic effort, while I remained in camp 
to pack and label my collection of land shells. 

The journey into the forest seemed a hopeless undertak- 
ing, for the rainy season had just begun in that region, and 
save for a few hours of sunlight during the middle of the 
day we were buried in the clouds. It was cold, the ground 
muddy, and the vegetation reeking with moisture but we 
had planned a forest setting for the elephant group which 
we were after for the museum, and we were keen to have 
that setting represent a bit of Kenya's lovely forest* 

The cook prepared food for the journey and I mixed a 
generous bottle of cocktails and put it with an extra supply 
of quinine and a few instructions in the chop box. As is the 
custom in Africa, I walked down the trail with the departing 
safari for a way and then returned to camp and my work 
on the shells, little dreaming of the inferno of suffer- 
ing we would pass through before seeing each other 

I was very busy and the time passed quickly, for I had a 
caravan of seventy idle black men with varying dispositions 
to manage; and I held a daily clinic for the local natives, 
who adore the white man's medicine, especially when It has 
a vile taste. 

The news of my presence was radioed across the hills 
from one village to another by the drums, and old friends 
from distant shambas came through the wet fields to see me. 

Just before sundown on the afternoon of the third day 
the two local guides who had accompanied the photograph- 
ing party into the forest arrived in my camp. When I saw 



diem my first thought was that an elephant had been killed, 
and they were sent back to pilot me into the forest, after 
the way of primitive people. The men stopped at the 
kitchen to discuss their news with the cook and the porters. 
Then in due time, followed by every one in camp, they 
approached my tent where I sat at my table working. Bill, 
my tent boy, acting as interpreter, stepped forward, and as 
calmly as if he were telling me that the men had brought in 
some new species of bird or monkey said, "tembo piga 
bawnd* (elephant has struck master) . 

There had been no warning of the terrible news in the 
faces of those primitive men, for in that land of violence 
and quick tragedy a life meant nothing. Many men had 
been "struck'* by elephants, that meant nothing; but I was 
a white woman and alone, and here was a situation entirely 
new to them. 

After the first shock of the awful news, superexcitement 
or the need for quick action gave me complete control over 
myself, and my plan of rescue was quickly formed. First I 
tried by patient questioning of the guides to find out just 
what had happened in the forest. Bill, again acting as 
interpreter, said in his mixture of pidgin English and 

"Guides say elephant stop behind bush. He ketch mas- 
ter. Guides 'fraid. They run 'way. They come here." 

This meager bit of information was all they could give 
me. I wrote a letter to the nearest white official, who was a 
day's march away, and told him what had happened and 
that I was going into the forest at once, asking him to send 
a doctor to us as quickly as possible. Then I called two 



native runners and offered them a big reward if they would 
travel all night and deliver my message by daybreak. I 
realized there was only one chance in a hundred that 
the men would do my bidding) for the natives never go 
abroad after dark if they can possibly help it, on account 
of the cold and the wild beasts. 

After they had gone I had the porters line up, and walk- 
ing past them I chose twenty of the strongest men to ac- 
company me into the forest. I did not ask if they would go 
I calmly chose those who were to go. 

While the cook was preparing food for the journey I got 
together the medicine, bandages, and clothing. When these, 
with tents and other equipment, were packed into light 
loads and placed under the fly of my tent, I sent the porters 
to bed, saying that I would call them when I was ready. 
Then I made a crude sort of stretcher with many lengths of 
cotton sheeting which we carried for trading with the na- 
tives. It was not a very comfortable conveyance for an 
injured man, but the jungle offered no choice. While I 
knelt in the bitter cold on the floor of my tent and worked 
by the feeble light of a smoky lantern, the tall camp guard 
stood at the entrance shivering, for the heavy mountain mist 
had changed into a driving rain, and the icy wind that blew 
off the glaciers carried it with biting force across the camp- 
ing ground and against my tent. Every now and then when 
the prowling hyenas came too close he would go out to the 
camp fire and try to coax the wet wood into a blaze. It was 
nearly midnight when the stretcher was finished and I sent 
the guard to arouse the porters. On his way back he raided 
the kitchen and almost depleted the cook's treasure stock of 



dry wood, but a few moments later the leaping flames of the 
revived camp fire helped to cheer us. 

The men failed to respond to the first call, and a second 
visit to their tents was necessary before they approached the 
fire, sullen and grumbling. The first arrivals squatted on 
their heels and, humping their shoulders under their cotton 
garments, huddled close together over the blaze, while the 
tardy ones stood behind them and received the full force of 
the biting wind. Coming, as many of our porters had, 
from the low, hot coast country, they were far more suscep- 
tible to the cold of the high altitude than the local savages, 
who for protection covered their bodies with a coating of 
castor oil and red clay. I was anxious to get started before 
any of them collapsed with a chill, which often happens 
when they are exposed to the cold rains. Some of them 
had been to the summit with us, and their sufferings were 
still fresh in their memory. 

When I went into my tent to get my gun, Bill followed 
me, and after a little hesitation began pleading with me not 
to start until daylight. Lowering his voice he told me that 
the porters were in a very ugly mood, and did not want to 
go. He said they were afraid of engat^ the spirit of the 
mountain, and of the elephants, and that the guides could 
not find their way through the dense jungle in the dark. I 
tried very patiently to explain to him that the life of his 
master might depend on the time we reached him, and that 
even then he might be dying while we stood wasting time. 
Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, the boy told me that 
the men were going to kill me if I forced them to enter the 
forest at night, and to hide the evidence of their crime from 



the officials they were going to leave my body to be eaten 
by the hyenas, who are the sextons in that part of the 

Thinking that the boy was afraid and trying to intimidate 
me, I told him he might remain in camp and look after 
J. T., the monkey, and I would take one of the other boys. 
This hurt his pride and forced him to tell me the whole 
truth. While the porters were discussing the journey and 
plans for my death, the two guides, the only ones who knew 
where the camp in the forest was, had become terrified and 
run away. 

I acknowledge without shame that I was frightened, 
and for an instant I became panicky and had a struggle to 
regain possession of my self -control. Then I realized that 
my only chance of finding the guides and reaching Mr. 
Akeley was to go from shamba to shamba and search each 
hut, and that I must get started before the elements drove 
the frightened men into an uglier mood. 

When I told Bill my plan he said in his quick, responsive 
way, "I go too, mem-sahib," but, shaking his head, he added 
by way of warning, "pagazi (porters) very, very bad/' 

Picking up my gun I walked with a pounding heart out 
to the camp fire, and the silent men made way for me. The 
awful thought of failure and the uncanny scene were fright- 
ening. As the forked fingers of the leaping flames illumi- 
nated the sullen faces of the crouching men I realized that 
Bill had told the truth, and that they were indeed in a very 
ugly mood and on the point of rebellion. 

Fear gripped hard at my throat, but the thought of being 
too late spurred me on. Steadying my voice, and putting as 



much authority as possible into it, I announced that every- 
thing was ready and it was time to be off . Not one of the 
men moved or spoke! But I read my answer in their black, 
scowling looks. It was a tense and dramatic moment. 
Twenty primitive, superstitious men with murder in their 
hearts and the cold, black night against me. The seconds I 
waited seemed hours, and the tightening in my throat nearly 
strangled me. Just as I found my voice and tried to speak 
again the hair-raising shriek of a frightened hyena rose from 
the bush back of my tent, and to my overwrought nerves the 
uncanny sound seemed like a warning and rearly stam- 
peded my courage a second time. 

In sheer desperation I began to laugh at the men. I 
called them ff shenzies" (wild men) and compared them 
to women, for whom they had little respect. I imitated 
their sullen looks and huddled-up bodies. The next moment 
I called them children and imitated a child crying for its 
mother. I kept on with the foolish performance until finally 
I saw their faces relax. Then some one laughed, it became 
contagious, and before they had time to recall their griev- 
ance I shouted "tayari" (ready) and, putting my hand on 
the shoulder of the big Swahili who I thought was the 
leader, I pushed him gently ahead of me toward the loads. 
Nobody will ever know what it cost me to go through with 
that little comedy, or appreciate my relieved feelings when I 
realized that all the men were following us. My plan was 
to go from garden to garden and search each hut for the 
guides. Bill was a Kikuyu, and familiar with the locality, 
so he carried the lantern and led the way. I brought up the 
rear to intercept those who might change their minds and 



attempt to desert. Silently, and in single file, we followed 
along the narrow path which led to the gardens and the little 
beehive-shaped huts of the natives. 

Finding the guides was trickish work, and that some of 
us were not hurt while inspecting the huts was a miracle, 
for the natives thought old times had returned, and that we 
were a neighboring tribe coming to raid them. The rain 
beating against the heavy foliage and the thatch on the roofs 
saved us, for it kept the occupants in ignorance of our ap- 
proach until their huts were surrounded. Bill was invalu- 
able to me here, for he was of the same tribe a Kikuyu 
and could speak their language. He knew the lay of the 
land and could guide us between the dripping walls of 
foliage from shamba to shamba. 

After visiting a number of villages and terrifying the In- 
habitants, we came to an isolated hut where we found the 
wjtf e of one of the runaway guides. At first she refused to 
tell us where her husband was, but when I threatened to 
take her with me she led us to a tunnel in the wall of bush 
behind her hut. Getting down on our hands and knees, Bill, 
the askari, and I crawled to the other end of it, and there 
we found a tiny hut, and in it our two guides fast asleep. 
We tied the protesting men together with a rope which I 
was carrying for the stretcher. 

Then when we were ready to start I learned to my dismay 
that some of the porters had taken advantage of the dark 
and remained in the last garden we had visited. I sent an 
askari after them, but they refused to move and tried to 
beat him. The men who were with me and standing with 
loads on their heads were getting angry and complained of 



the cold, so I decided to go after the missing ones myself. 
I knew I could trust Bill to manage the guides, but he could 
give me no assistance with the porters, for, as I have said, 
they were Swahili, coast natives, who look with contempt 
upon all natives of the interior as creatures belonging to an 
inferior race. Each moment we were delayed in the bitter 
cold rain increased their anger and my danger, so without 
telling the men of my decision I found the back trail and 
ran as fast as I could on the muddy path toward the men, 
whose voices I could hear. When about halfway a hand 
suddenly grabbed my coat. Panic-stricken, I struggled 
frantically, exerting every nerve and muscle to free myself 
from this new danger which threatened me. Suddenly, un- 
der the strain on the old worn buttonholes, my coat opened 
and caused us both to lose our balance, but his hold on my 
rain-soaked garment did not relax. In that awful moment, 
which I realized meant life or death not only to me but 
perhaps to Mr, Akeley, I was the first to regain my equilib- 
rium. With a strength born of my fear, I struck out wildly 
with the stock end of my gun. As he released me and fell, 
I ran back to the waiting men. To my dying day I shall feel 
the shock of that blow and hear, above the roar of rain and 
wind, the awful thud of a body striking the sodden earth. 

Despair over my failure and a horrible fear of the men 
robbed me for the moment of all reason. I did not know 
whom I could trust. I could not tell whether my assailant 
was one of my own men or a villager, coming to the rescue 
of the guides. Finally something within me rose to the 
occasion, and I began shouting to the renegades, first a threat 
that I would report their conduct to the white officials, whose 




punishment they knew would be severe for deserting a white 
woman, and then praise of the men who had remained 
steadfast in spite of the dreadful night, and their fears and 
superstitions; in this way I finally won them over again. By 
the time we had formed into line and were ready to start 
again it was two o'clock in the morning, and as black as an 
African night can be; rain, occasional showers of hail, and 
no light but a smoky lantern. 

After we left the gardens behind and entered the dense 
bush our progress became very slow and painful. The 
grades were steep and slippery. The bare feet of the men 
made the narrow path a trench of oozy mud, exposing ruts 
and stones that had a fiendish way of catching the toe of 
my boot or sliding to one side at the wrong moment. The 
tough, rope-like lianas and thorny creepers that hung down 
from the limbs of trees looped across the trail were like cold, 
clammy hands, and caught us round the head and body, and 
in the dark tore our flesh in a painful way. We had to cross 
mountain torrents where the rushing volume of icy water 
nearly swept us off our feet. There were swampy patches, 
too, where the elephants in passing had left holes three and 
four feet deep in the soft, muddy ground. These swampy 
patches are difficult even in the daytime, but in the dark 
they are a hideous nightmare. The barefooted men crossed 
safely, but my hobnailed boots were a disadvantage. Three 
times what I thought was solid ground gave way, and I 
slid to the bottom of a hole with mud and water up to my 

We struggled on hour after hour, going over high, steep 
ridges, down through deep canyons, floundering across 



streams, climbing over logs and boulders, stumbling, falling, 
and rising again, and going desperately on into the heart of 
that black, pitiless jungle, with the rain falling like shot 
on the leaves, and the strange animal sounds coming from 
all directions. The greatest danger which confronted us in 
the overwhelming dark of that great forest was the chance 
of meeting wild beasts on the narrow trail. Escape would 
be impossible, for high, impenetrable walls of tangled and 
matted vegetation hedged us in. There were other dangers 
which in the dark caused great anxiety. They were the deep 
pits which Wandorobo hunters dig in the trails, and also 
poisoned spears which they hang from the limbs of trees 
to kill the animals. 

Had we released one of these by touching a vine which is 
cleverly stretched across the trail, it would have meant cer- 
tain death for the one beneath it, for the poison covering 
the spearhead is so potent that it will kill even an elephant. 
1 Yet in the face of all these hardships and dangers only twice 
after leaving the gardens did the men hesitate or attempt to 
bolt. The first time was when a heavy-bodied animal which 
must have been asleep beside the trail went crashing away 
through the jungle, causing a panic. The most frightening 
time came just before daylight, and when we were well up 
in the big forest, where the giant trees with buttressed bases 
twenty feet across rise up two hundred feet or more. We 
were sloshing and slipping and sliding along through the 
mud, with nerves keyed to the breaking point, when sud- 
denly, just ahead of us, the trumpeting squeal of an elephant 
rang out, and was followed by the ripping, slashing, and 
crashing of a tree. Loads were dropped, and in the dark 



pandemonium that reigned I heard the frenzied and fright- 
ened men tearing down the trail. To save my life I could 
not have moved from the spot where I stood. Sheer terror 
held my feet rooted to the ground and kept me speechless. 
Had I screamed or fainted God alone knows what might 
have happened. When I did not move the men stopped 
crowding and we stood wedged together like frightened 
.sheep on the narrow trail between the walls of vegetation. 
Sometimes it seemed that the feeding elephants were coming 
in our dirction, then again the crashing of trees and the 
squealing seemed far away. So quiet were we that a hyena 
came trotting down the trail, and did not discover our pres- 
ence until he was almost in our midst, then with a horrible 
hair-raising shriek and a hellish, cackling laugh the beast 
turned and fled, and I sincerely hope he was as badly fright- 
ened as we were. 

How long we waited, too terrified to move or speak, I do 
not know, but it seemed an eternity. Caution as well as 
fear kept us huddled together breathless on the narrow trail, 
until the crashing and trumpeting drifted away and it finally 
became silent. Even then I was reluctant to move for fear 
some of the elephants might have left the herd and strayed 
in our direction. 

Drawn together by our common danger in that black in- 
ferno, all fear of the men left me. Suddenly the gruff bark 
of a colobus monkey echoed through the forest, and imme- 
diately answering barks came from all directions; then from 
the throats of hundreds of monkeys there rose on the air 
and rolled through the forest the wildest and weirdest sounds 
I have ever heard. The monkeys were singing in unison 



like a trained choir to herald the dawn. With a feeling in 
my heart that only one in similar circumstances could know^ 
I looked up and saw that the blessed daylight was filtering 
through the foliage. Presently, for dawn comes swiftly in 
the tropics, I could see the faces of the men, and the forest 
became filled with the cries and calls of birds and monkeys, 
and the frightening night sounds coughing of leopards, 
wails of hyenas, and the eerie screeching of hyraxes died 

Dawn, and the welcome sounds which accompanied it, re- 
leased our tongues, and we all talked at once. Hope and 
courage returned with the daylight, and after giving first- 
aid to some of the men who had received ugly wounds on 
their legs, we traveled on. About eight o'clock we came to 
a circular clearing in the forest, where the undergrowth, 
composed mostly of raspberry bushes, vines, and creepers, 
was trampled flat by the crossing and recrossing of ele- 
phants. Here, to my horror, the guides admitted that they 
were lost, and stubbornly refused to go on. Almost frantic, 
I got down on my hands and knees and circled the clearing, 
spreading the vines apart and inspecting every inch of 
ground in the hope of finding the imprint of hobnailed 
boots on the soft earth, but the rain had washed away all 
trace. Beaten and almost exhausted after our terrible, 
nerve-racking night, I sat on the ground and the tears 
which I had been fighting so long blinded my burning eyes, 
and the bitterness of failure entered my heart. It seemed 
that no punishment in the next world could equal the torture 
which I endured. 

Suddenly in the midst of my grief I recalled my gun, and 



jumping to my feet I startled my followers by firing three 
shots in rapid succession. Then we stood still and listened. 
In a moment there came, like a voice from heaven, an answer- 
ing shot, and, followed by faithful Bill, I dashed off, 
guided by the sound of the gun which was fired at intervals. 
In about a half hour we came to the camp at the edge of the 
bamboo forest where the mauling took place. 

He was alive, and we were in time. The guides had told 
their story right: "The elephant had stopped behind a bush 
and caught their master," and he was pinned to the earth 
between its tusks. By a miracle the tusks must have met 
some resistance in the ground, the roots of a tree or a stone, 
which prevented the mountain of bone and muscle behind 
them from actually crushing Mr. Akeley to death. There 
was every evidence that after leaving Mr. Akeley the ele- 
phant had tried to locate his gun bearers and the porters, 
who naturally had run away. Examining and cleansing Mr. 
Akeley's wounds were my first consideration. There were 
several cuts on his head and face, and some of his ribs 
were broken. That he was not killed outright, or maimed 
for life, was truly a miracle; for many men have been 
mauled by elephants, but few have lived to tell of their ex- 
perience. The fact that his wounds were cared for so 
promptly prevented infection, and without doubt saved his 
life. The majority of sportsmen who have died in Africa 
after being mauled by animals have died of blood poisoning 
because their wounds were neglected, or because help 
arrived too late. 

The following day Dr. Phillips, a young Scotch medical 
missionary, arrived. My messengers had reached the Boma 



at daybreak as they had promised. Mr. Brown, the commis- 
sioner at Nyeri, had notified the doctor who started at once. 
He reached my camp outside the forest about five o'clock in 
the afternoon, rain-soaked and thoroughly fagged. The 
next day he continued his journey and reached us about 
midday, just forty-eight hours after the accident. The com- 
fort of his presence on the downward journey, however, was 
denied us, for he was obliged to return to Nyeri, the gov- 
ernment station, at once, where he ushered into the world 
Baby Brown, the first white child born in the Nyeri district. 

The journey out of the forest, over the steep and treacher- 
ous trails, occupied three days. I shudder to think, even 
now, of that awful time, and the narrow escapes the stretcher 
bearers had from falling over the precipices and being car- 
ried away in the swollen streams with their helpless burden. 
They worked heroically, and it was a ragged, mud-spattered, 
and weary procession that straggled into our base camp. 

After the invalid was made comfortable, and our jungle 
home put in order, I had a bath and put on dry clothing for 
the first time in a week. Then, when the terrible strain on 
nerves and body was over, and I knew that Mr. Akeley would 
live, I will acknowledge frankly I indulged in the luxury of 
a real cry. But the horror and suffering endured that awful 
night have never left me. Indeed the thought of the torment 
of an orthodox hell pales into insignificance by comparison. 

In all fairness to the men who planned to take my life, 
and in defense of the men who ran away when the elephant 
charged their master, I can only say that their natural fear in 
entering one of the densest and most dangerous forests in 
Africa at night, which white men fear to enter even in the 



daytime, and facing a charging elephant unarmed, was more 
than offset by their splendid behavior in bringing Mr. Ake- 
ley out of the forest, and their final courage in braving both 
beasts and evil spirits in the jungle night. Even my two 
runners earned their extra pay and my undying faith in the 
black men of Africa by reaching the doctor and bringing 
him in record time the next day. Bill, whom I shall always 
love, remained with us until the end of our safari. After 
that awful night, at my suggestion, he was relieved of his 
tent-boy duties and became a bodyguard, following us on 
our hunting excursions, and even joining in the tracking. I 
purposely avoided seeing him on my last expedition to 
Africa, for I did not want to risk the change which age and 
contact with white men inevitably bring to his kind. I 
wanted all my illusions and pleasant memories of him to 
remain with me to the end.